Monday, October 20, 2008
Here’s what to consider when selecting your cruise.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
When it comes to vacations, the big thing now is ski trips. Everyone seems to want to head off to the slopes for a day of flying down a mountain, the wind in your hair, and the powder swishing beneath your skis. If you only have a few days of vacation time, a day trip to a ski resort is a great way to use them. However, to really get the most out of a ski resort, you should really look into a ski vacation package. Because when it comes to a ski resort, skiing is just the tip of the iceberg.
And don't forget there's lots to do besides just skiing. There's tubing, where you ride giant inner tubes down the ski hill. There is usually also an ice skating rink, which should offer figure skating, and hockey. And don't forget about sledding for the little members of your family. There's lots to do with the snow other than just to slide down it.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
That depends on what you want to do—and how much you want to spend! Here are four types of seafaring getaways, with options to suit any budget.
Health & fitness retreat
$ If you don't want to shell out for a fitness cruise, sail to the western Caribbean, where you can choose an adventure like snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, or biking. Carnival offers the best options in this area (carnival.com)
$$ Royal Caribbean's Freedom, Liberty, and Independence of the Seas each have healthy menu options, a gym and spa, a surfing simulator, a jogging track, an ice-skating rink, a boxing ring, and a rock-climbing wall (royalcaribbean.com)
$$$ On Star Clippers' ships, you dock in small, exotic ports with recreational options that include hiking up volcanoes and cycling through vanilla plantations. Onboard fitness classes include yoga and aerobics (starclippers.com)
$ Cruises to Alaska and British Columbia offer sophistication (Vancouver and Victoria) and nature (all around you). During shoulder season, you can nab a bargain for around $100 per person per day. Princess and Holland America have the best options (princess.com, hollandamerica.com)
$$ Big-time celebrations call for big-time ships: The Queen Mary 2, which crosses the Atlantic, has a planetarium, a pub, and Canyon Ranch's only cruise spa (cunard.com)
$$$ French Country Waterways and European Waterways offer trips on barges that meander along canals in France. Days revolve around meals, bike rides, winery visits, and watching the countryside go by fcwl.com (gobarging.com)
Single girls' get-together
$ Carnival Cruise Lines — known to many as the "party hearty" line — has a terrific selection of three- and four-night voyages to destinations like the Bahamas (from Florida ports) and Ensenada, Mexico (from Long Beach, Calif.) (carnival.com)
$$ Book a shorter cruise on a line that might otherwise be a budget buster. Celebrity Century sails four- and five-night trips in the Caribbean and has fully equipped fitness facilities and an elegant ambience (celebritycruises.com)
$$$ Mediterranean itineraries are popular with European travelers, so the onboard experience provides cultural immersion — and, potentially,cute men aplenty. MSC and Costa, lines that channel Carnival's celebratory mood, have shipsthat sail the Mediterranean (msccruisesusa.com, costacruises.com)
$ No time? Norwegian Cruise Line offers one- and two-night voyages out of New York that don't have any port calls. They do have restaurants, spas, and entertainment (you can catch a Second City comedy show on Norwegian Gem) (ncl.com)
$$ Get a grand experience for less by taking a repositioning cruise. Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival all offer these one-way trips. In October, for example, Carnival Splendor sails from Rome to Fort Lauderdale (carnival.com)
$$$ Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America sails round trip from Honolulu. The ship has spas, restaurants, and a Hawaiian cultural center, but the island stops — including Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai — are the real stars (ncl.com)
Get a free $1000 Carnival Cruise Lines Gift Certificate
We've found ten extreme vacations to get your heart racing:
1. Drag Racing
Doug Foley's Drag Racing School offers several dates in Atco, New Jersey (plus a trio of options in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maryland); for the highest HBM (heart beats per minute), opt for the Super Comp Dragster package, a two-day program that includes safety instruction and step-by-step familiarization with your car.
2. Gorilla Safari
No more than 700 mountain gorillas remain, but Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Africa is still the best place on the earth to spot – and maybe even touch – one of these gentle herbivores. Their distinctive personalities are endearing, while the ruins of the Karisoke Research station where Fossey was murdered and buried are themselves quite moving.
Lured by the promise of untouched slopes, wilderness solitude, and challenging terrain, those who dare to get airborne access otherwise inaccessible peaks. Valdez Heli-Camps operates tours to the Chugach mountain range in Alaska; serious extremists book the four-day Sound to Summit package that tackles Chugach's 13,000-foot peak and offers accommodations on a ship anchored in the Prince William Sound.
4. Mountain Climbing
Mount Everest looms large in travelers' minds, and with good reason: risking passage through the "death zone" (which takes lives every year) and reaching the summit is the achievement of a lifetime. If you're an accomplished climber, Adventure Consultants offers summit expeditions from Nepal that will set you back about $60,000 and come with no guarantees of summiting.
Sandboarding is a four-season extreme sport that's recently gained in popularity with snowboarders looking for a similar rush and surreal, desert landscapes. Sure, you could try surfing the dunes at your local beach, but for the real deal, head to Cerro Blanco near the Andes mountain range in Peru to find the world's tallest sand dune.
6. Shark Diving
Pack your gear and go deep-sea diving with the sharks off the coast of Cape Point, South Africa. Apex Shark Expeditions runs day trips into False Bay (some 30 minutes from Cape Town) between November and June, inviting you to swim for over an hour with Mako and blue sharks without anything but your wet suit between you and their fins.
7. Space Travel
The 10-day space journey offered by Virginia-based Space Adventures blasts you from a launch pad in Kazakhstan into the actual orbit of the Earth, where gravity itself becomes obsolete as you circle the globe every 90 minutes. But if the thought of piggybacking on a Russian rocket for a cool $25 million grounds you, wait for a comfy chair on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, set to launch as early as 2009 with suborbital flights that will set you back $200,000.
Rappel down the side of a limestone cliff, squeeze through damp crevices covered with luminescent glow worms, leap from a subterranean waterfall, and go "black-water rafting" in the underground rapids at Ruakuri Cave, part of the otherworldly Waitomo cave system in New Zealand. The five-hour Black Abyss adventure offered by The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. is the most challenging of the region's guided tours, with a mix of climbing, rappelling, and cave tubing.
9. Stunt Vacations
For a taste of the car chases, burning buildings, and free falls seen in high-octane action movies, head to Las Vegas. Thrillseekers Unlimited offers hear-pounding adventures taught by working SAG stunt professionals; book the five-day Stunt Experience and you'll stunt fight, set yourself on fire, and bungee jump from the AJ Hackett Tower on the Strip.
10. Titanic Dive
You don't have to be an oceanographer to get a look at the shipwreck of all shipwrecks, either – head to Newfoundland, where The Great Canadian Adventure Company runs expeditions aboard the Akademik Keldysh, a Russian research vessel capable of descending nearly 2.5 miles underwater to reach the ship's resting place. The privilege of seeing the Titanic up close costs nearly $40,000 but, for fanatics, it's a small price to pay to be one of the first non-scientists to make the dive.
Get a free $500 Northwest Airlines Gift Card
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In a statement, Bill Harber, director of marketing for Carnival Corp., said the company is moving away from fuel surcharges to reflect the recent downward trend in fuel prices. He added that Carnival may reinstate fuel surcharges if oil prices rise.
Monday, October 13, 2008
But when we asked msnbc.com readers what they thought of the "unbundling" of airline services, many were displeased. "This is absolutely ridiculous! Next they will charge us for oxygen on the airplane," wrote dcarey.
We’ve rounded up the ten best activities and destinations where you can bond with your buds – whether watching baseball, drinking beer, or a getting a back rub – on a guys-only getaway.
1. Catch a Baseball Game in Boston
Even a die-hard Yankees fan can’t deny Boston's place in baseball history. The best time to see the boys of summer in action is – well, the summer – but no matter what time of year you visit Boston, you can always take a tour of Fenway Park for a behind-the-scenes look at one of baseball’s most famous franchises.
2. Cook in Napa
There’s no better place to learn the basics than the Culinary Institute of America in Northern California’s Napa Valley. The CIA offers very masculine "Live-Fire Cooking" cooking classes – you’ll be the ultimate barbecue man on the block in no time. If it gets too hot in the kitchen, get out to one of Napa Valley’s superb restaurants where you can sit back and let someone else do the cooking.
3. Drink Beer in Bavaria
There may be no better place on earth for beer lovers than Bavaria, Germany’s largest state. The capital city of Munich is home to the world-famous Oktoberfest, but there’s plenty of sud-sipping to be done in Bavaria all year long. Beer gardens and beer halls abound, as do centuries-old breweries whose output adheres to the strict standards set forth in 1516.
4. Golf in Ponte Vedra Beach
Head to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and book a tee time at the TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship – known as the “Fifth Major,” – and the site of Tiger Wood’s incredible 60-foot “better than most” putt that helped him win the tourney in 2001 (you can try to recreate the moment on the famous 17th-hole). No matter what level you're at, playing a course that's as steeped in golf lore as this one is an experience best shared with the boys.
5. Off-Road in Death Valley
Former boy scouts looking for a wilderness camping adventure should look no further than Death Valley, California, where deep-rock canyons, old mining camps, and the arid Panamint Mountains beg to explored. See it all via 4x4 – and if you’re feeling really adventurous, spin your wheels in the sand of the Dumont Dunes, some of the tallest dunes open for off-road riding.
6. Party in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is the ultimate spot for excess, a place where boys can be boys and indulge in the activities guys love: gambling, girls, and nightlife. The Hardwood Suite at the Palms Casino Resort is tailor-made for men – think a basketball half-court and scoreboard, a massive hot tub, a full bar, and a pool table.
7. Play Cowboy in Lajitas
The best place to coral your inner cowboy is at the Lajitas Resort’s Badlands Hotel, which recreates a Wild West frontier town complete with tumbling tumbleweeds and a rickety boardwalk, albeit with modern comforts and amenities.
8. Spa in Chicago
If you secretly love to be pampered, you’re not alone – about a third of US spa-goers are men. Get your back massaged (or waxed) in masculine surroundings – think pool tables, brown leather chairs, and ’40s pin-up-girl posters – at the 316 Club Barber Spa.
9. Sport Fish in Panama
Panama is full of surprises; that it’s an excellent spot for sport fishing is one of many. Grab the guys and head south for a “reel” good catch – Panama’s waters are home to swordfish, marlin, and even some shark species.
10. Surf in Sydney
Known as the Bondi Beach of the north, this strip of Sydney sand attracts hordes of visitors looking to kick back and ride the waves (and perhaps steal a glance at topless sunbathers, a regular sighting on local beaches).
Friday, October 10, 2008
That's an 11% increase over the 25.8 million passengers that the national passenger railroad carried in fiscal year 2007.
Follow these 10 tips, and you'll be ready to face the unpredictable challenges of traveling during the holiday season.
1. Pack for security.
Ignore the TSA's baggage rules at your peril. Not only could you lose precious time as you scramble to make your plane, but you could also be forced to pitch your favorite perfume or that expensive bottle of wine.
2. Keep your gifts unwrapped.
If you’re bringing presents, be sure to leave them unwrapped until you arrive at your destination. That’s because TSA screeners may need to inspect the contents before clearing your checked or carry-on bag.
3. Lose the pounds on your luggage.
Packing light won’t just help you avoid straining your shoulders; it’s also a good way to keep you from draining your pocketbook. Most airlines allow you to check two pieces of baggage of up to 50 pounds each.
4. Leave yourself enough time.
Be sure to build enough time into your schedule if you plan to check your luggage: Airline rules require you to complete check-in, depending on your airport, no less than 30 to 45 minutes before departure. As a general guideline, you’ll want to be at the airport at least one hour before departure for domestic flights, and at least two hours for international flights.
5. Print your boarding passes on the Web.
One good way to save time at the airport is to bypass the ticket counter entirely. Check in on the Web and you’ll be able to select or improve your seating assignment and avoid waiting in line. Even if you’re checking bags, you can still print your boarding pass online and take care of your luggage by using either an airport kiosk or curbside check-in.
6. Avoid delays.
If you’re connecting in a city that’s being socked by a snowstorm, you have more control: Call your airline and see if you can be rebooked on a different flight. Also, when you’re buying your tickets, it’s a good idea to travel early in the day. Not only are you less likely to face delays, but you’ll have more options for fixing the situation if something goes awry.
7. Stay in the know.
Don’t wait until you get to the airport to find out that your plane’s been delayed. Check your flight status on the airline’s Web site several hours before you’re scheduled to depart. Being aware of potential problems early gives you time to make alternate arrangements.
8. Scout out airport eats and diversions.
Airports make some people cranky under the best of circumstances, and I’m not just talking about the under-5 set. It’s a smart idea to check your airport’s Web site to figure out if there’s anywhere good to eat near your gate.
9. Check the weather forecast.
Even if your flight takes off without a hitch, you don’t want to be caught unaware by stormy skies later in your trip. And if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar for the holidays, it’s helpful to know whether you should pack sunglasses or a scarf.
10. Know where you're going.
Finally, don’t spend so much time worrying about getting onto your flight that you don’t think about what happens once you’re off it. If someone’s picking you up, make sure you have a plan for meeting up; if you’re renting a car, have your confirmation number handy.
Get free airline tickets here
Thursday, October 9, 2008
1. Behold, a president bearing gifts
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November, travelers can probably expect a change for the better. Practically speaking, it could mean lower fuel prices (after all, both candidates say they want to lessen our dependence on foreign oil) and a higher dollar (both candidates have pledged to control spending and jumpstart the economy).
Air travelers are adjusting to the historic airline cuts by flying less. So it's unlikely that flights will be more crowded than ever. In fact, it's possible that more air travelers will forfeit their trip than the airlines expected, which could translate into smaller crowds at the airports and possibly even lower fares. There's some evidence this is already happening.
The cost of a Caribbean cruise is falling to levels not seen since 2001, according to Sharon Emerson, a Seattle travel agent and blogger. Why the slide? She speculates that there are overcapacity issues -- too many berths, not enough cruisers -- or that it's just the slow season in the islands. Either way, there are deals to be had.
The fall and holidays were already a great time to take an overseas vacation -- it's a slow time of year, and most of the rest of the world has never heard of Thanksgiving -- but this year it could be even better. "There will be a lot less traffic to international destinations," predicts Michael Stone, a travel consultant with Gestation, Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
John Boyd, the founder of MeetingWave, an online networking service for business executives, believes hotel room availability and pricing should improve as occupancy rates slide later this year. "Both corporations and individuals are cutting back on travel," he says. "They should find better deals at domestic travel destinations such as Las Vegas, Miami and New York." But what about the holidays, when hotels are typically sold out? They'll still be full, but the chances of finding a last-minute deal through a site that sells distressed room inventory, like Hotwire.com or Priceline.com, will probably be better than it's been in years.
For just about every major holiday, big online agencies compile deals and are some of the best places to start looking. For example, Orbitz has a list of low-priced flights (including taxes and fees) departing on October 10 and returning on October 13.
Although city escapes are ideal for some, others want to spend Columbus Day in the woods, enjoying quintessential fall festivities like foliage viewing, or even cozying up in front of a fireplace. Not surprisingly, the best way to find affordable country escapes is to look for deals at small inns and B&Bs. BedandBreakfast.com lists a host of special promotions for fall foliage. While many black out Columbus Day, others provide decent savings.
Another good way to find Columbus Day deals is to check with individual destinations, ski resorts (which often have tremendous fall foliage), and parks and wildlife areas. This year, some of the best offers are in Ogunquit, Maine.
What are you doing for Columbus Day weekend? Taking a leaf-peeping trip? Relaxing at home? Please share your tips and experiences with other travelers by posting a comment below.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Amtrak passengers will have to submit to random screening of carry-on bags in a major new security push that will include officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains, the railroad announced earlier this year.
The initiative is a significant shift for Amtrak. Unlike the airlines, it has had relatively little visible increase in security since the 2001 terrorist attacks, a distinction that has enabled it to attract passengers eager to avoid airport hassles. Amtrak officials insist their new procedures won't hold up the flow of passengers.
Get a Free $500 Amtrak Gift Certificate
Monday, October 6, 2008
Tom Doak was given a spectacular palette to work with at Pacific Dunes. The track is perched one hundred feet above an untrammeled Pacific coast beach, and hewn from giant sand dunes and thick fields of gorse, transplanted from Scotland. Though links-like in appearance, Pacific Dunes is much more than meets the eye.
One of five courses at Bethpage State Park, the Black's narrow fairways, high rough, strategically placed bunkers and small greens all combine to make it a incredibly daunting experience. "You don't have water hazards," said John Olenoski, "just really good contouring. And that's enough." Tillinghast was responsible for many fine layouts, including Winged Foot and Baltusrol.
No lesser authority than Bobby Jones called the Pinehurst Resort "the St. Andrews of America," and #2 is Pinehurst's crowning glory. The sand hills area of North Carolina purportedly reminded Donald Ross of his Scottish home. Though he would design over four hundred courses in his lifetime, Pinehurst was his first love.
Thanks to years of televised final round coverage of the AT&T Pro-Am and a smattering of U.S. Open Championships - not to mention countless coffee table tomes - the links of Pebble Beach are indelibly stamped on the collective golf consciousness. "Not all eighteen holes are truly great," said Damian Pascuzzo, "but the stretch from four through ten and then sixteen through eighteen are amazing. One seldom gets a chance to play golf in that kind of setting."
One of Pete and Alice Dye's most recognizable designs, TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville, Florida was the first course built to accommodate spectators. "You think of Sawgrass, you think of the seventeenth (island) hole," said John Olenoski. "Everyone wants a shot at it." "TPC is of great architectural significance," added Damian Pascuzzo. "It's a very man-made environment, and started a whole new design trend."
Another Pete Dye Classic, Harbour Town is the course that made Hilton Head Island a golf mecca. "Mr. Dye took a flat site and made a course that is full of interest, by leaving great old live oaks in strategic spots, by creating interesting bunkers and hazard edges, and by giving the course a set of tiny greens that demand precise iron play," said Tom Doak. "Harbour Town proved that resort golfers prefer interesting features to long and challenging courses ... a lesson that I took to heart."
Step to the tee at the Straits course and you may think that you've arrived at a storied links course on the west coast of Ireland. Unfolding along the shores of Lake Michigan in Kohler, Wisconsin, Pete's Dye's Whistling Straits is a truly "dyeabolical" layout, with upwards of five hundred bunkers. It's become an instant classic, having already hosted the 2004 PGA Championship, and is slated to host the U.S. Senior Open in 2007.
The opulent Broadmoor Resort rests at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, and is celebrated for its three tracks - especially the East course, designed by Donald Ross in 1918. "Broadmoor East offers sweeping views of the Rockies," said John Fought. "It's a treat to play with its mix of holes, and will be even better when it is restored to its original Donald Ross vintage."
Situated in Nebraska's Sand Hills region, Wildhorse mirrors the wild, dune-ridden links land of the Scottish coast - without the ocean. "Wildhorse rivals the quality of the courses at Bandon Dunes, though on a somewhat smaller scale," said Bill Coore. "It's a pure dunes land experience."
Black Mesa rests on a rugged piece of land north of Santa Fe. "Black Mesa features the kind of scenery you might find in an old western movie," said Tom Doak. "It's a difficult test of golf for good players, but everyone will enjoy the fact that they've kept it affordable and accessible. I think it's the best course in New Mexico."
Get free gift cards to the following golf resorts:
Friday, October 3, 2008
1. The Peninsula, Chicago
A sophisticated 339-room luxury hotel overlooking North Michigan Avenue in the heart of the premier shopping district. State-of-the-art guest accommodations, plus elaborate and recently renovated rooftop spa and fitness club with an 83-foot indoor pool and outdoor sun deck.
2. The Peninsula, Beverly Hills
A 193-room residential-style hotel near Rodeo Drive and Century City. Newly renovated rooftop cabana-lined pool and lavish health/fitness spa, plus elegant Belvedere restaurant.
3. St. Regis, New York
Sumptuously restored 229-room Beaux-Arts landmark hotel in the Midtown Fifth Avenue shopping district. Dining options include Adour restaurant by legendary three-star chef Alain Ducasse. Fitness/spa facilities.
4. The Four Seasons, Chicago
Impeccably serviced 343-room world-class hotel occupying the middle floors of a downtown tower complex incorporating upscale Michigan Avenue shops. Gourmet Seasons restaurant, plus luxurious spa and health/fitness club with a 50-foot indoor skylighted pool.
5. The Four Seasons, New York
Stunning I.M. Pei-designed 52-story 368- room modern hotel between Madison and Park avenues. Fine French/Asian fusion restaurant under the direction of celebrity chef Jo묠Robuchon, plus health spa/fitness center.
6. Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
Sophisticated 336-room hotel in an elegant neoclassical structure on Nob Hill. Health spa and fitness center with indoor pool, plus signature New French/Japanese dining room that ranks among the city's best.
7. Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
Captivating 91-room Mission-style urban oasis secluded amid a tranquil 12-acre garden in the foothills of Bel-Air near Beverly Hills. Fitness center, in-room spa services, and heated outdoor pool, plus romantic restaurant.
8. The Lowell, New York City
Refined 70-room hotel (mostly suites) set along an elegant tree-lined street between Madison and Park avenues, close to many of the city's most notable museums, galleries, and shops. Supremely comfortable accommodations (many with fireplaces, some with terraces), a residential atmosphere, attentive service, and an ideal location.
9. Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
Distinguished 158-room luxury hotel affording spectacular bay views from the top floors of a high-rise near some of the city's best shops and galleries.
10. The Peninsula, New York
Classically styled 239-room Midtown hotel near Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall in the heart of the Fifth Avenue shopping district. New panoramic Salon de Ning restaurant and lounge. Fabulous glass-enclosed rooftop spa/health club with indoor pool. Note: The spa is under renovation and is expected to reopen in October 2008.
Get a free $500 Ritz-Carlton Hotel Gift Certificate
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This list of top train trips around the globe will put you on the fast track to an “I-think-I-can” rail trip that we assure you not only can embark on, but absolutely should.
1. The Bergen Line
Northern Europe's highest railway, it passes through scenic fjord inlets, and past snow-capped mountains and glaciers, on a 300-plus mile journey between the culturally-rich city of Bergen in western Norway and its capital at Oslo.
2. The Blue Train
This veritable five-star hotel on wheels offers refined features and operates a handful of itineraries from Pretoria of which our favorite is the one-night excursion to Cape Town, stopping at an old diamond rush mining town along the way.
3. Denali Star Train
Passengers can chug along on a memorable 365-mile route of scenic unspoiled backcountry between Anchorage and Fairbanks, catching glimpses of towering Mt. McKinley and wildlife, from eagles soaring overhead to moose grazing in the distance.
4. Eastern & Oriental Express
The classy Eastern & Oriental Express offers several itineraries to major Southeast Asian cities in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Laos. Our favorite is the three-night journey between elegant Singapore and the bright lights of Bangkok.
5. The Ghan
Travel from the wine capital of historic Adelaide, brushing north past red sandstone cliffs, gorges, waterholes, and rock formations, keeping watch for wild camels, dingoes, brumbies and kangaroos along the way.
6. The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
Glides from Moscow, through the surprisingly beautiful Siberian tundra, to Vladivostok in 14 days. Passengers soak up benefits such as plasma screen TV’s and DVD/CD players; en suite bathrooms with power showers and underfloor heating; and dining delicacies.
7. Hiram Bingham Train
This luxury rail ushers travelers to and from the steps of the sacred site from Cusco six days a week, in sheer class – and in just 3.5 hours. Uncover stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape as you glide along through the lush Sacred Valley.
8. Napa Valley Wine Train
Savor a gourmet lunch in one of its lavishly restored 1915-1917 Pullman dining cars before hotfooting it to the wine-tasting car, where a choice of 100 wines compensates for the fact that you can’t disembark at the wineries you fancy along the route.
9. TER Méditerranée
Straddles the French Riviera coastline as it rolls from the port city of Marseille (accessible from Paris in just 3 hours by TGV train) to Ventimiglia, Italy, stopping at the Riviera capital of Nice, the resort towns of Antibes and St. Raphael, film-famous Cannes, and high-rolling Monte Carlo along the way.
10. Tokaido Shinkansen
Reduces the 320 miles between the bustling urban metropolis of Tokyo and temple and shrine-speckled Kyoto to a mere 131-minute journey, traveling at speeds of an astonishing 168 miles per hour (and accelerating to 186mph just beyond Kyoto). On a clear day, you’ll catch glimpses of majestic Mt. Fuji as you zip by the mix of urban and bucolic landscapes.
Get a free $500 Railpass.com Gift Certificate
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Labor Day has come and gone and that means summer is over, but that doesn’t mean plans for an Orlando vacation have to end too. In fact, fall is one of the best times of the year to plan your Orlando vacation, and here’s a few reasons why:
Reason #1 – Not so Hot
A summer Orlando vacation means blistering hot temperatures and super high humidity. Once the fall hits, the temps start to come down, making for a much more comfortable Orlando vacation.
Reason #2 – Not so Crowded
Another thing that comes along with a summer Orlando vacation is huge crowds at all of the Orlando theme parks. With the kids back in school, you can spend more quality time at your favorite Orlando theme parks.
Reason #3 – Super Special Events
Fall brings some world-famous special events to the Orlando theme parks, including:
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
- Halloween Horror Nights
Reason #4 – Cheap Hotels
Many Orlando hotels begin their value season at the end of the summer. Disney hotels have cheaper pricing in place through Oct. 1, and if you stay before then you can get rates as low as $89 per night on Disney property.
Reason #5 – Cheap Golf
Golfing in Orlando is also cheaper this time of year. Disney has their Price Slice in effect now until Oct. 2, with rates as low as $49 available at the Magnolia, Osprey Ridge, Lake Buena Vista and Palm Golf Courses.
Anytime of year is a great time for an Orlando vacation, but the milder temps and lower crowds make the fall an especially good time of year to plan your Orlando vacation.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The number of bags lost or delayed by airlines is rising thanks to new carry-on rules that are forcing more passengers to check their bags.
There are steps you can take to help prevent your luggage from getting lost–or at least enable you to survive the ordeal with less difficulty.
Here are Foster's tips for smart packing:
- Use a sturdy identification tag with a durable strap on each bag. The best tags have a cover hiding your name to protect your privacy; use your business address and phone whenever possible.
- Include your identification information inside the bag, in case the outer tag is lost. Place a travel itinerary in an outside pocket or inside your bag on the top so airlines can easily track you down.
- Tie a colored ribbon to your bag or mark your initials in big letters so no one else will take it from the luggage carousel. Take a digital photo of the bag to show to the baggage agent should it be misplaced.
- Remove old baggage tags to avoid confusion among baggage-handlers.
- Check your bags early. Airlines suggest 90 minutes in advance (two hours for international travel) but at daily high-traffic times, you should add 30 minutes. Last-minute checked bags may not make it onto your plane.
- Make sure your bags are ticketed correctly before you leave the luggage check-in area.§ Complete the lost-luggage reports at the airport and don't leave without a claim number and contact information so you can check the status of your missing bags.
- Create a packing list that includes every item in each bag and leave a copy at home in case you need to claim compensation.
- If you can, carry with you on board whatever personal items you'll need to survive 24 hours in your destination without your suitcase. If you're heading to a beach, tuck a bathing suit in your carry-on; if you're headed to a meeting, carry with you a copy of that important speech or presentation, or better yet, fax it, FedEx it or email it ahead so that it's there when you arrive.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Visitors to this 20-mile-long southern island can expect iridescent waters full of sunken wrecks and an unspoiled desert-like coast. Come nightfall, renowned casinos, bars, and clubs, spring to life, and can keep you out till dawn. Add on the frequent nonstop flights from the United States, and it's little wonder why Aruba reigns among the Caribbean’s most popular getaways.
Bursting with enough autumnal color to brighten up the four stone-faced presidents chiseled into Mount Rushmore, South Dakota’s heavily forested Black Hills region also entices fall visitors with plenty of family-friendly diversions, like its giant two-level wooden maze, and grown-up pastimes, like saloon-style gambling in Deadwood – the famously untamed Old West gold-mining town where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane once roamed.
The pride of New England, historic Boston really comes into its own in autumn, as students return to their university classrooms (and the local pubs), baseball fans head to Fenway for the last games of the season, and brilliant foliage frames the city’s historic buildings, parks, and gardens. Dubbed “the walking city,” much of Beantown’s rich colonial character is easily explored on foot, while the crisp fall air and picturesque Charles River encourage water-based outings.
Brimming with charming Victorian buildings, lodge-style bed-and-breakfasts, and sumptuous Southwestern eateries, this easy-going Colorado mountain town proposes the perfect autumnal escape. Nature enthusiasts can admire the distinctly seasonal sight of golden-leafed aspens while soaking in natural hot springs, cruising the scenic San Juan Skyway, or riding a steam locomotive through Cascade Canyon on special “Pumpkin Patch Express” trains.
Old-fashioned activities like buggy rides and harvest festivals abound under the brilliant foliage of Lancaster County. Getting to know the resident Amish is a highlight of any visit here; you may well be invited to share in family-style meals finished off with shoofly pie (a local treat of sweet dough and molasses).
The town of Monterey and its celebrated bay, part of the 5,322-square-mile Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, shimmer most brilliantly, especially after summer’s cool fog rolls away and the peninsula’s sunny autumn weather takes hold. Enjoy kayaking alongside frisky seals, navigating the famously twisting “17-mile Drive” past cypress groves and the world-renowned Pebble Beach golf course, and marveling at over 345 species of fish at the town’s first-rate aquarium.
Sure, the “happiest place on earth” is a kid magnet, but even grown ups know this Florida destination isn’t just for the little ones. And with fall ushering the younger set back into the classrooms, you won’t have to share the adrenaline-pumping rides at Walt Disney World, the marine life magic of SeaWorld, or special autumnal events like Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights.
8. San Antonio
The "Fiesta City" of South Texas gets travelers fixin’ for a fall fling, thanks to its reputation for fun, festivals, and fantastic attractions like the Alamo, Franciscan and Spanish missions, and Mexican marketplaces. Enjoy the city's bustling shop-and-café-lined River Walk, top-rated museums, and atmospheric historic districts with Native American, Spanish colonial, German, and Mexican influences.
British Columbia’s largest city is heralded for its culture, cuisine, and proximity to the region’s spectacular natural surroundings. Surrounded by water on three sides and boasting nearly 200 parks, fall is optimum time for nature lovers in Vancouver, when the great outdoors are met by lovely foliage and mild temperatures.
Head to Washington’s Walla Walla region, where 1,200 acres of rolling vineyards host over 60 wineries replete with quality Syrahs, Merlots, Sauvignon Blancs, and Chardonnays. This happening viticultural area, with its tasting rooms, restaurants, boutiques, and deluxe inns, makes a great alternative to popular Napa, at a fraction of the cost, to boot.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Remember when Halloween was a one-night affair? Now the spooky season stretches from mid-September through October, much to the delight of boos and ghouls of all ages. Throughout the lead-up to Halloween, theme parks are pulling out the stops with special evening events, from gentle hayrides to jump-out-of-your-skin scare zones. Keep in mind that everything seems scarier in the dark, so choose wisely with your children’s ages and sensibilities in mind. Here are some of the many Halloween events going on at theme parks around the country:
1. Count’s Spooktacular in Sesame Place (Langhorne, PA)
When: Weekends only, September 29 to October 27
What to expect: Little ones can go trick-or-treating in their costumes, take a hayride, walk through Count von Count’s castle, see the “Countdown to Halloween” musical show featuring their favorite characters, and more.
Best for: 2 to 10
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
2. HallowBoo! in Idlewild (Ligonier, PA)
When: Weekends only, September 27 to October 26
What to expect: This gentlest intro to Halloween includes trick-or-treating through Storybook Forest, meeting Ricky Raccoon and other characters, specially themed rides and attractions, games and a walk-through maze, favorite fall foods.
Best for: 2 to 8
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
3. Brick-or-Treat Trail in Legoland (Carlsbad, CA)
When: Weekends only, October 4-26
What to expect: Festivities include trick-or-treating on the kid-sized Brick-or-Treat Trail, entertainment from “the Boo Crew” and a LEGO candy corn scavenger hunt at the haunted hideaways. A free souvenir bag includes collectible commemorative LEGO bricks and other surprises.
Best for: 3 to 10
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
4. Hersheypark in the Dark in Hersheypark (Hershey, PA)
When: Weekends only, October 17 to November 2
What to expect: It’s off to Hersheypark for exciting rides, entertainment, favorite fall foods, and storytelling.
Best for: 4 to 12
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
5. Halloween Horror Nights in Universal (Orlando, FL)
When: Select dates, September 26 to November 1
What to expect: Now in its 17th year, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is promising to be the most frightening ever, with seven—count ’em, seven—chilling haunted houses, three scare zones with no escape, and a host of demented fiends such as The Storyteller, Jack the Clown, and The Caretaker.
Best for: 16 and up
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
6. Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios (Universal City, CA)
When: Select dates, October 3 to November 1
What to expect: Haunted walk-through attractions, roaming scare-actors, and nightmare-inducing rides, shows and attractions. Plus live music dance performances by “The Mutaytor.” Heed the warning: “No kids, no costumes, no wusses.”
Best for: 16 and up
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
7. Scary Farm Halloween in Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, CA)
When: Select dates, September 25 to November 1
What to expect: Now in its 36th year, this 160-acre living horror movie is filled with 12 chilling mazes, six hair-raising shows, four horrific scare zones, and a cast of a thousand monsters roaming for their next victim. This one is for grown-ups, folks.
Best for: 16 and up
Get Your Free Tickets Here!
Source: Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
Friday, September 5, 2008
Get your free bus tickets too by visiting this site: http://www.see-it-free-travel.com/rd_p?p=150282&t=6742&gift=25079&a=25079-blog. And remember to send me any travel related questions. I can help you find plenty of online offers!
I thought it was too good to be true. I figured there was nothing to lose, so I completed the offers. Sure enough, two Greyhound Discovery Passes showed up at my doorstep. Unbelievable! Thanks for the Greyhound tickets!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Go to see-it-free-travel.com/rd_p?p=150282&t=6742&gift=13320
and get free tickets to Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park.
I am planning to spend this halloween on Dorney Park and I am crunching some numbers to come up with the amount I needed for my costume, the park admission, parking, and extras. Well, it turns out that I might have to spend quite some money to see my halloween wishes come true.
I have heard of discounted tickets for amusement parks but I have never come across this offers. I decided to search on Google for "dorney park" and I found this site under the sponsored links: see-it-free-travel.com/rd_p?p=150282&t=6742&gift=13320
After I clicked on the link, I got to a site that gave away free tickets to the park! How could this be true? I had to find out! I entered my email address and then filled out a profile page with my personal information.
Then I answered some yes and no survey questions. I was directed to a series of pages that required me to sign up for stuff. Some of this offers required no money down (Netflix, Coffee samples, credit cards). I used the refer a friend option to avoid paying for stuff. It took me a while to figure out which ones did not ask for a purchase, but I finally finished. I used a safe Internet connection and about two hours of my time. After some research I found that the company behind this offer is called World Avenue Holdings.
Overall, I think this site is totally worth my time. After carefully selecting the no money required offers for about two hours, I get four admissions to Dorney Park. Not only can I go see the haunted houses, outdoor/indoor mazes, and other shows, but I can take my friends with me! It can't get any better than this!
If you want to go to the Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park, get your free tickets now: