Tips for succesful air travel on Thanksgiving

22.11.2010 In: Travel tips

Thanksgiving travelers have a lot to digest this year, and we're not just talking turkey. More of us are taking to the skies than last year at this time, experts say. Aside from the usual holiday hassles of jammed jets and fickle winter weather, we'll be navigating new body scanners and pat-down procedures at airport security checkpoints.

Here's how to keep Turkey Day travel worries from gobbling up your fun and finances:

Crowded planes: Airlines expect to handle 3.5% more passengers during this year's Thanksgiving holiday season than they did last year, filling nearly 90% of their seats on peak days (this year, Nov. 19, 24, 28 and 29), according to the Air Transport Assn. But that's no reason to panic.

"Some Fridays in the summer can be nearly as busy," ATA spokeswoman Laura Goodwin said.

The difference between flying 90% and 85% full (as airlines averaged in August, the U.S. Department of Transportation said) amounts to just seven seats on a 137-seat Boeing 737-700. That's no big deal, said industry analyst Mike Boyd , president of Boyd Group International in Evergreen, Colo.

"Airplanes have been jampacked for years," he said. And only about 5% more flight departures are scheduled for Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving, than for the prior Wednesday, according to Executive Travel SkyGuide and Seabury APG.

But the holiday brings more traveling families, more carry-ons, more checked bags and fewer no-shows than on a typical day, Boyd said. Mix in a snowstorm or two, and you've got a recipe for crowd anxiety and traffic snarls. Miss your flight, and you may owe hefty change fees and fare differences.

Tip: Get to the airport early and be ready to wait.

Losing your seat: Despite packed cabins — August's percentage of filled seats was the highest ever recorded for that month — fewer people are getting bumped off flights. The rate of "involuntary denied boarding," as the DOT calls it, has fallen by 6% over the last year. Still, the risk can rise at peak travel times.

Overbooking planes is legal but not unregulated. If you lose your seat, you may be entitled to as much as $800 in compensation in addition to a free ticket. (A DOT proposal to raise the limit to $1,300 is pending.) Airlines must ask for volunteers before they bump unwilling passengers, but given packed holiday planes, I'd avoid opting for that.

Who gets bumped? Low-fare fliers and those who check in late may be the most vulnerable, the DOT says.

Tip: "Get your boarding pass as quickly as you can, because when you have a pass, that seat is taken out of inventory and you can be assured of getting a seat," Boyd said.

Trapped on a plane: Not as bad as snakes on a plane, but a pain nonetheless, and more likely during bad weather.

Under laws that took effect in April, long tarmac delays may be less painful. U.S. airlines must let passengers off the plane after three hours or face potentially huge fines, and they must provide food, water and working bathrooms while they're stuck.

Tip: Know your rights during flight delays (and also bumping). A useful guide is "Fly Rights,", from the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. Print it out or bookmark it on your smart phone before you head out.

Tighter security: At many airport checkpoints this year, you'll find new advanced imaging technology, popularly known as full-body scanning, that uses X-rays to detect non-metallic and metallic objects.

In a change from past practice, "you must take everything out of your pocket and off your person," not just coins and other metal, to walk through the scanners, said Nico Melendez, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

As of early November, 385 of the new machines had been deployed at 68 airports, including LAX. The TSA says the X-rays are safe and the images are anonymous —claims challenged by the Allied Pilots Assn. and the American Civil Liberties Union.

You can decline to go through the scanner, the TSA says, but if you do, you'll be subjected to a pat-down, recently changed to allow screeners to probe around sensitive body parts.

Tip: Decide in advance how you want to be screened.

Iraq tourism - a reality soon

15.11.2010 In: Travel destinations

Are you ready for Iraq tourism? Well, if the folks at World Travel Market and Euromonitor are to be believed, the war-torn country is “poised to be a future tourism hotspot.”

Euromonitor International in its WTM Global Trends Report shows “Iraqi tourism is growing fast with increased airline and hotel capacity following the country’s successful attendance at World Travel Market 2009 – its first visit to a travel and tourism trade event for 10 years.”

“Iraq’s decision to bring a delegation to World Travel Market last year was well timed for the destination’s tourism resurgence. The country offers a diverse mix of history, culture and unique experiences all paving the way for its place as an exciting up and coming destination,” WTM Chairman Fiona Jeffery said....

Tourism recovery as stated by WTM delegates

15.11.2010 In: World travel news

People are rediscovering travel following the recession, according to data unveiled at the World Travel Market, the premier global event for the travel industry.

Latest figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council show that worldwide, travel and tourism’s gross domestic product is expected to rise by 2% this year, compared with a forecast in January of only 0.5%.

However, the WTTC has urged caution, pointing out this sudden growth spurt means that tourism GDP in 2011 will grow by only 2.7%, compared with 3.2% forecast in January.
Figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization for the first nine months of this year confirm the progressive recovery of the industry with a 7% increase in international arrivals compared with the same period in 2009.

A high-profile...

Lanzarote island - perfect for any vacationer

08.11.2010 In: Travel tips

So where do you go for that ultimate European vacation that not only combines excellent weather and fantastic beaches, but also adds the charm of local culture to make your holiday all the more memorable? The Canary Islands have been attracting tourists from around the globe for decades and particularly those from European destinations, and the relatively short flight times to this group of islands make it ideal for travellers that are looking for a sun kissed destination, but do not necessarily want to spend 10 hours or more on their flight.
Booking a break in Lanzarote is simple. There are loads of cheap flights to Lanzarote thanks to the fact that low cost airlines. And finding good value accommodation is also simple – as there are thousands of well priced villas and apartments...

Have a vacation this winter! 5 wonderful places to enjoy

08.11.2010 In: Travel destinations

Looking to get away this holiday season? Who better to find the deals than agents catering to notoriously cash-strapped students?
Patrick Evans of the student travel agency STA Travel, Danielle Carlson of StudentUniverse and Anne Banas of Smarter Travel offered recommendations for five places around the globe that offer an especially great value for trips from December 1 through January 25.
The first two weeks of December and the first week of January are known as "dead weeks" in the travel industry, and are the "absolute best time to travel in the entire year," Banas said.
So why not follow college students during their winter break to visit awesome destinations at low prices?

1. Costa Rica
With an average temperature of 72 degrees during the winter, travelers will enjoy a...

8 pristine tropical islands you should never miss

01.11.2010 In: Travel destinations

You want to plan that vacation to that glorious tropical island but you've only heard of the tourist traps like Nassau, Bahamas or Montego Bay, Jamaica. You want a place without fifteen-story hotels, screaming crowds, and a thousand souvenir shops. You want a place where you can finally relax and recuperate from the smash and grab daily grind. Well, worry no longer. Below you will find eight of the most peaceful paradises in the world. But don't wait a decade to choose one. By then, they may no longer be some of the best secret travel destinations.

1. Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico: Because this little gem was controlled by the U.S. Navy until 2003, it lacks the crowds, tourist traps, tall buildings, and traffic of commercialized vacation spots. This is truly an unspoiled island with...

Still not scared after ghost hotels? Try European cemeteries

01.11.2010 In: Travel tips

Top 10 cemetery attractions in Europe, according to traveler popularity:

1) American cemetery, Colleville-sur-mere, France
The World War II cemetery is located on the bluff overlooking Omaha beach, which was one of the bloodiest landing points for the American forces during the Normandy invasion in June 1944. It contains the remains of nearly 9,500 American military personnel. The impressive and moving cemetery also features at the beginning of Steven Spielberg's 1998 film 'Saving Private Ryan'.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said: "My husband and I visited the American Cemetery in Normandy last week. I found it to be a beautiful and inspiring place."

2) Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Paris, France
One of the world's most famous cemeteries, located in the east of Paris,...

Seventh Forum for Parliamentarians and Local Authorities to debate tourism issues

25.10.2010 In: World travel news

The global economic crisis has opened up important opportunities for the tourism sector, but capitalizing on these requires a better understanding of the various governance roles within national tourism policy and decision making. This will be the main topic of debate among the ministers of tourism, parliamentarians, local authorities, and representatives of the private sector meeting at the upcoming Seventh Forum for Parliamentarians and Local Authorities (November 16-18, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico).

Given the horizontal nature of the tourism sector, all public policies have a significant impact on tourism activity, yet this is often not taken into account by legislators when it comes to decision-making. The forum will debate current challenges facing tourism governance, in particular...

Looking for some creepy fun? Try Ghost Tours!

25.10.2010 In: Travel destinations

Top 10 Ghost Tours in the U.S. have been announced.

Based on TripAdvisor's Popularity Index, a measurement of overall traveler satisfaction, these tours offer monstrous amounts of fun for daring travelers seeking a haunting history lesson or just jaw-dropping and spine-tingling thrills.

1. Hair-Raising Harpers: Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Self-proclaimed as "America's oldest ghost tour," this terrific tour has been running for more than 40 years. Brave travelers are invited to journey through Harpers Ferry's historic "Lower Town," to visit Hog Alley and other dwellings where past tragedies have left sauntering spirits. A TripAdvisor traveler said, "It was good, creepy fun!" Tour tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for 8-12 year-olds, and free of charge...

A guide to New Delhi - a metropolis of two cities

18.10.2010 In: Travel tips

Delhi may be guilty of dilly-dallying on preparations for next month's Commonwealth Games and construction of some venues is running seriously late. But the good news for visitors (the vast majority of whom won't come during the Games anyway) is that the rest of Delhi is completely finished, and has been for, well, centuries.
The capital of India has emerged as a mega-metropolis, divided in two between New Delhi, the manicured planned capital of India, and Old Delhi, the chaotic heart of the city.

One piece of Games-related infrastructure that will benefit visitors for years to come is the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which has the latest facilities. But whenever you go, as you must, you'll need this Delhi "to do" list.

Do: Be taken for a ride

Delhi is one Indian city...

Top 10 places for brewery experience in the USA

18.10.2010 In: Travel destinations

Lager-lovers with a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for ale will be in their element at these entertaining establishments, which offer travelers the opportunity to sample tasty brews, while soaking up the sudsy surroundings.

1. Beechwood Best: Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour, Saint Louis, Missouri

In addition to offering free tours that take in the legendary Budweiser Clydesdale Stable, Beechwood Lager Cellars and historic Brew House, true hop-enthusiasts can also opt for the more exclusive "Beermaster Tour." This behind-the-scenes look at the brewing of Budweiser even offers travelers the opportunity to taste samples directly from a finishing tank. Tour tickets are $25 for over-21 year-olds and $10 for 13-20 year-olds.

2. Revolutionary Pour: Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston,...

An insight on Caribbean - all you can wish for

11.10.2010 In: Travel destinations

In the south east of Gulf Mexico the amazing region of Caribbean is situated. It primarily consists of the Caribbean Sea, stunning islands and the coastal regions. More than seven thousand islands, islets, reefs and cays make up this area. A few of its islands are part of the rouged, towering mountains, whereas the rest are located in the plane terrain areas. The level of rainfall varies with the altitude and the air currents; in other words, its climate is tropical. Throughout the season, warm and moist wind keeps on blowing. The beauty of the marine life here catches your eye since it consists of a variety of fish, turtles and the multi-coloured coral reefs.
The Caribbean is a gorgeous place. Its beauty attracts people from all around the world, who come to spend some time with their...

Curacao - welcome a new country!

11.10.2010 In: World travel news

The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao became an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, on October 10, 2010.

Curaçao has been one of five island territories of the Netherlands Antilles, which has had its seat in Willemstad, Curaçao, ceased to exist as a country on October 10, 2010.

Curaçao will now exclusively reap the benefit of taxes brought in from its rapidly-developing tourist industry. The change in Curaçao’s status to that of being an independent nation within the Dutch Kingdom translates to more tax dollars available for tourism development. Now, greater resources will be available on-island to develop new port facilities and accomodations, positioning Curaçao for significant growth in its tourism product.

“Curaçao is thrilled to announce our...

Top 10 destination to enjoy the foliage-peeping in the US

04.10.2010 In: Travel tips

Top ten fall foliage destinations in the U.S. have been announced. The list is based a TripAdvisor survey of more than 2,300 travelers. From mountain peaks to seaside ports, these destinations offer a fabulous variety of activities for leaf-peepers.

1. Auburn Awakening: Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled in the foothills region of western North Carolina, Asheville is a spectacular location for leaf-peeping. Travelers can enjoy the beautiful views by peddling through the Appalachian Mountains on one of many biking trails, or hop in the car for a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One TripAdvisor traveler said, "We stopped multiple times for the breathtaking views. We will be going there again." Peak foliage-viewing is from mid to late October.

2. Mass Appeal: Boston,...

Indian railways - crosing the country for 150 years

04.10.2010 In: Travel destinations

Indian Railway has a rich heritage of about 150 years that has crossed a number of tracks and boundaries to achieve milestones. Today it has become the lifeline, the backbone of the travel industry as well as the lifeline of the nation. It has witnessed commendable success in the past and is significantly contributing to the economic progress of the country.
Here are some of the interesting facts about Indian Railways that has eventually contributed in making the Indian Rail network one of the largest in Asia:
- First passenger train was started between Mumbai and Thane on April 16, 1853.
- Parsik Tunnel is the first rail tunnel in the country.
- First underground rail system started in Kolkatta.
- In the year 1986 the first computerized reservation system started in New Delhi.