Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Vacation’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2016

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our 8 Nights of Hanukkah Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

Cross Body Bag

This is a stylish travel purse that’s not overly large or bulky, proving it’s possible to look fashionable even when you’re on the go. Comfortable, the perfect size and RFID protected. Available here.


Two Time Zone Watch

Functional, stylish, classy – this Philip Stein two time zone watch allows you to know the time wherever you are, plus the time back home (so you don’t call to check in at 2am). Available here.


Bluetooth Item Finder

Always losing your keys, your wallet, your mind?  Just attach, drop or stick Chipolo to the things you care about and make them ring when you get close. Available here.


Bug Protection Jacket

With insect-borne viruses causing traveler anxiety, apparel treated with Insect Shield can help keep globe-trotters protected.  Available here.


Kids Travel Tray

Taking car rides with kids soon? The Kids Portable Play Travel Tray provides a sturdy surface for travel treats and toys. Available here.


Interchangeable Heel Shoe

Don’t have room for multiple pairs of shoes in your suitcase? How about shoes that you can swap out the the heel bringing it from flats to heels? Available here.


Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket

Infinity scarf with a built in pocket to be super versatile and incredibly stylish. Not only can you use the hidden pocket to stash your stuff, but you can also wear it in a variety of ways. Available here.

Amazing Journeys Gift Certificates

Not sure where you want to go next but itching to travel? Gift certificates help to get you on your next life changing vacation. Available here.

Looking for more ideas?  Click here to see last years list of gift suggestions.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2015

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our 8 Nights of Hanukkah Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

Anti-Theft Cross Body Bag

A new addition to the AJ staff wardrobe, this travel bag is perfect for travel with its slash-proof locking pockets, cut-proof shoulder strap that attaches to chair and RFID blocking card slots. Available here.


Foldable Carry-On

This carry-on weighs less than 5 pounds and when you are done wheeling it around the airport, collapses into a much smaller, space-saving pouch. Available here.


2-in-1 Backpack

Use it as a mid-sized backpack or tuck it into a space-saving fanny pack. It’s a lightweight quick-change artist that’s great to have on the road. Available here.


Mini Umbrella

This is the perfect “just in case” umbrella. Measuring less than 7 inches when closed, this pocket-sized protection makes sure you are never caught without an umbrella again.  Available here.


Packable Rain Boots

Constructed in a lightweight rubber, the leg of the boot folds down, wrapping around the shoe for easier packing and transportation. Available here.


Shoe Sleeves

shoe bag

Protect shoes and clothing from dirt and debris as you explore the great outdoors. Available here.


Travel Pillow

Make sure you are comfortable on planes, trains and buses with this lightweight travel pillow. Available here.

Compression Socks

Keep your legs comfortable and ready to hit the ground running after sitting for hours on exhausting flights. Available here.

Looking for more ideas?  Click here to see last years list of gift suggestions.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

Don’t be that traveler…

Monday, January 5th, 2015

In travel – as in life – things are bound to go differently than planned.  The best course of action is to be flexible, have a back up plan and go with the flow.  Many of the most memorable parts of a vacation happen when you go “off script”, so to say, and you are sent home with stories of “that time” on vacation.  It is our job at Amazing Journeys to make sure that you are well informed and taken care of so that even when plans do change, you don’t need to worry yourself but just keep on going and enjoy your vacation.

With that being said, we would like to share a few funny comments that travelers with other companies have shared about their travel experience.  They made us laugh!

1. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

2. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time – this should be banned.”

8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

14. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

15. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

16. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

17. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

18. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2014

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our Top Ten Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

10. Multiple Device Travel Charger

chargepod_2

This portable charger minimizes cable clutter by placing multiple charging outlets on a single unit. You can refuel up to six devices simultaneously while occupying just a single wall outlet. Available here.

9. Scratch Map

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Track your travels with a scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map that charts globetrotting in a fun, colorful and innovative way. Scratch off the areas you’ve visited and show off your travel progress! Available here.

8. Foldable Water Bottle
bubibottle

Another way to save space in your bag!  Roll it up and a metal loop keeps the bottle scrunched up so it fits easily into your bag. Available here.

7. iPhone Life Jacket
ip4_lifejacket

Want to take pictures as you take a dip in the pool?  Throw your iPhone in a waterproof case and life jacket and let it float right alongside you. Available here.

6. Crease Release
crease release

In a world of overpacked schedules (and suitcases!), ironing isn’t always an option. As soon as you make it to your destination, unpack your clothes, give them a quick spray and blast of the blow dryer and start looking fabulous. Available here.

5. GoPro Camera
gopro

This rugged, waterproof, portable camera will take all the action shots you ever need to become the adventurous envy of all your friends back home. Available here.

4. A good travel book

Whether you’re reading up on your next destination, learning about a new culture or just escaping from reality, its always great to travel with a book. And who knows? When you’re done with your book, you can always trade with a friend on your trip and read their new favorite, too! Available here.

3. RFID Blocking Wallet
rfid wallet

This lightweight organizer protects your passport, ID and credit cards from identity theft with advanced RFID-blocking technology. Thieves with scanners can’t get at the radio-frequency tags embedded in your cards and documents because of the secure lining that shields your information. Available here.

2. Global Entry pass
globalentry

Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved travelers the opportunity travel easier at the airport. Once you have been approved for Global Entry, you can use this for Pre-Check, a special quick security line in most major US airports, allowing you to breeze through while keeping your shoes and belt on, your liquids stored away and your laptop snuggly in your carry-on. How nice is that? There is an application process but we think it’s worth the work upfront, knowing how much time it will save at the airport. Available for US citizens only.

1. Packing cubes
packing cubes

This is the very favorite of our AJ staffers. If you’re looking for an easy way to pack and unpack while on tour, here is your answer! Throw all of your socks into one, your accessories in another and your shirts into the larger one. When its time to unpack in your stateroom or hotel room, you know where everything is and you’re done in 3 minutes. Simply unzip the cube, open the top, and lay right inside of the drawer. When it’s time to pack it up again, zip it all up and throw it in the suitcase. Only staying at the hotel for a day or two? Leave it all in the suitcase and reach right in to easily find what you are seeking! Available here.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

The perfect day in Hawaii

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

-by Erin

Hawaii-10
Imagine this…

You wake up to the sounds of waves crashing outside your window and you walk bleary eyed down to the lobby where you grab a fresh cup of local Hawaiian coffee which instantly wakes you up and energizes you for the incredible day ahead.  With your sunglasses on your head and your camera on your shoulder, you walk down to the beach where the warm sand tickles your toes and you lay out your blanket and watch one of the most impressive sunrises that you will ever see in your life.  You see locals showing off their surfing skills and smell authentic Hawaiian cuisine as you walk down the long stretches of sandy beaches.

Hawaii-40

After a delicious breakfast of fresh local fruit and homemade pastries, you pack your day bag and make your way down the beach to Diamond Head.  As you hike to the top of the dormant volcono, the warm sun makes you smile while the cool sea breeze reminds you where you are.  At the overlook, you gather with your friends and take pictures of the island with breathtaking 360-degree views.

Hawaii-13

After an active morning, it’s time to relax so with a strawberry daiquiri in one hand and a good magazine in the other, you head down to the pool.  With the sounds of the ukulele strumming and waves lulling you to sleep, you take a nap soaking in the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle and dreaming of tomorrow’s adventure.  After a relaxing hour or two poolside, you head back to your room and don your most festive and colorful outfit because tonight, you are going to a luau!  You are taught to dance the hula, learn about the Hawaiian culture and watch an impressive show of dancers and fire breathers.

hawaii main 2

As the sun sets and the sky becomes a wash of indigo’s and violet’s, you think of all the fabulous experiences that you will get to share with your family, the friends that you have made and the warm Hawaiian rays of sun that will keep you warm when you are back home and digging your car out of a pile of snow.

Sound like something you’d want to experience?  Join us in Hawaii this November and learn the true meaning of Aloha!  Click here for a preview video of Aloha Hawaii.

A Guide to Tipping

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

-by Erin

You’ve enjoyed a lovely meal: The ambiance is perfect from beside the Vltava River, the River Thames or the Bosporus Strait, the food seemed to transport you further into the exciting city, and you feel a delicious sense of wonder about the world. Then the bill comes – how does one tip for such an experience? How do you keep yourself from being marked a tourist or worse – a cheap tourist? Never fear: We’ve researched the rules of conduct in 10 popular cities around the world, and here they are in plain English.

London

london changing of the guards

Across the pond in foggy Londontown, tipping etiquette is only slightly different than it is in the States. When you’ve enjoyed a nice meal out at a restaurant, it’s customary to leave anywhere from a 10 to 15 percent tip. But before you leave your extra coins on the table, take a good look at your check: Some restaurants automatically add 12.5 percent, especially on bills for larger parties. It’s not routine to tip at fast food joints or if you’re picking up take-out. When you’re at the bar or pub, tips aren’t customary either — though feel free to leave one if your American reflexes get the best of you. It’s also good manners to leave your taxi driver a 10 to 15 percent tip, though many locals will round to the nearest £1 GBP (about $1.65 USD). Still, if you’ve traveled a longer distance, say from London Heathrow Airport all the way to Buckingham Palace, you might want to leave a bit of a larger gratuity (up to 5 quid or about $8 USD).

Barcelona

After stuffing yourself full of the divine tapas that were delivered by a super attentive waiter or waitress in a Barcelona restaurant, you should consider tipping anywhere from 7 to 13 percent of the total bill. But if the food was subpar and service just so-so, feel free to make your displeasure known by tipping nothing. Tipping in Spain is supposed to be a prize for superior food and service; it’s not an assumption like it is in the U.S. Meanwhile, when it comes to local taxi rides, it’s customary to leave €0.50 EUR (about $0.70 USD), though if you’re traveling farther afield, you may want to tip your cabbie a couple euros.

Paris

paris eiffel tower

You’ve had a marvelous time pretending you are Parisian as you sip your vin and watch the River Seine at a cafe, but you turn into the befuddled American when you receive the bill. It’s a common plight, so here are the rules: A service compris (service charge included) of 15 percent is usually already included in your cafe or restaurant bill. The service charge is probably even included in the price you saw listed on the menu. But rest assured that you wouldn’t be committing a faux pas by adding a few more euros for extraordinary service. When it comes to tipping a taxi driver, it’s customary to tip 5 to 10 percent of the total charge.

Sydney

Down under, the tipping customs aren’t too different from the United States. But one reason for that might be because Americans have influenced the tipping practices in Aussie Land. All you need to remember is the number 10: Whether you’re in a taxi or dining at a restaurant, it’s now customary to tip 10 percent. However, if you only incur a small bill, leaving your extra change should be sufficient.

Prague

prague

When you’re dining on Czech dumplings or beef goulas at a Prague restaurant, you’ll see that a service charge is sometimes included. However, just to be on the safe side, you might want to tip 10 percent of the total bill. When you’re departing a taxi, you should round up the fare to the nearest 20 Czech koruna (the equivalent of $1 USD), or 50 CZK (the equivalent of $2.50 USD) if you’re feeling generous.

Rome

Even though Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg supposedly didn’t tip a couple of Roman waiters while on his honeymoon in 2012, we suggest that you do. In Zuckerberg’s defense, the tipping tradition here is a bit murky. Make it easy on yourself and live by this general rule: Tip up to 10 percent (but no more) of the total bill. However, if you see the words “servizio incluso,” you don’t have to leave your server an additional gratuity, as the service is already included. For taxi drivers, you may want to round up the bill, saying, “tenga pure il resto” or “keep the change.”

Rio de Janeiro

rio

Although Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival celebration is anything but discreet, its tipping practices are. So when you’re handing out a tip, try to be inconspicuous about it — Brazilians are a modest people when it comes to receiving gratuities. At restaurants, however, you don’t need to tip, as a servico (or service) charge of 10 percent is usually included. For taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest Brazilian real (about $0.40 USD) is usually sufficient.

Istanbul

When you’re dining in Istanbul, you should always try to tip in lira (for reference, 1 Turkish lira is approximately $0.45 USD). For mid-price restaurants, anywhere between a 5 to 10 percent tip would be adequate. However, if you’re enjoying a fine dining experience, you should bump that ratio up to 10 to 15 percent. As for taxi drivers, simply rounding up the taxi fare to the nearest 50 kuru (one hundredth of a lira) is adequate. And if you enjoy one of those quintessential Turkish experiences — like bathing in a hamam — anywhere between a 10 and 20 percent tip is appreciated.

Bangkok

bangkok

Even though you may have some trouble adjusting to Bangkok’s language and landscape, you can rest assured that at least the tipping customs are rather easy to remember. When you’re dining on some delicious Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup) or Som Tum (spicy green papaya salad) or any other menu specialty at a Bangkok restaurant, you won’t be expected to tip, however you can leave small gratuities for decent service or up to 10 percent of the bill for exceptional service. With taxi drivers, it’s customary to round up the fare. (The currency used is the Thai baht and 1 baht equals about $0.03 USD.)

Cape Town

If we were to generalize about Africa as a whole, we’d say that western generosity is very much appreciated. In Cape Town, in particular, you’d probably want to tip restaurant servers 10 to 15 percent of the total bill (sometimes it is already included in your total). Cab drivers are accustomed to receiving about 10 percent of the total taxi fare. And if you’re traveling from Cape Town International Airport (CPT), you might notice porters mingling about. For their help with your luggage, you might want to hand over 20 to 30 South African rand (ZAR), the equivalent of about $1.80 to $2.70 USD. If you’re traveling by rental car, you may run into “car guards” or valets. When you’re coming back to retrieve your car, an appropriate tip is anywhere from 15 to 20 rand, the equivalent of about $1.35 to $1.80 USD.

Original source: Huffington Post

How to Make the Most of Your Airport Layover

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

-by Erin

Flights with layovers are often cheaper than direct flights, but despite the savings, many travelers will pay more to avoid the extra time in the airport. Can we blame them? The thought of sitting around in an airport for six hours is only vaguely more enticing than a dental appointment. And who would want to prolong their travel time more than necessary, especially when beach side hotel in Hawaii or a South American New Years cruise awaits at the end of the journey?

But despite their reputation as a necessary evil, layovers don’t have to mean endless hours of watching the clock and waiting for your Amazing Journey to start. In fact, a layover can be a memorable part of your trip and, dare we say it, fun. Instead of killing time filling out crossword puzzles and browsing the bookstore (there are only so many hours you can spend flipping through magazines you haven’t purchased before you’re asked to leave), why not dine on dishes created by celebrity chefs, take a mini-excursion to a local city or burn some calories in a fitness center?

Leave the Airport, See the SightsphpThumb-6

Airports that offer fast and affordable transportation to the cities they serve are the best places for an airport layover adventure. In cities like Amsterdam, Sydney, Washington D.C., Chicago and London, travelers can easily take public transportation from the airport to the city center and spend a half-day exploring.

For best results, sketch out a rough itinerary ahead of time. Find out what kind of transportation you’ll need to take to and from the airport (most airport Web sites list this information) and research the locations of attractions you want to visit. You may want to focus on a single attraction or neighborhood to save travel time. Allow plenty of wiggle room for traffic, long airport security lines and other variables.

Work Out

If you’re not shy about folding into downward dog in public, pack a yoga mat and work on your positions at the airport. A few minutes of deep breathing and stretching is a fantastic way to get your blood flowing after a flight. Check your airport’s Web site to see if it offers a yoga or fitness area. Singapore’s Changi Airport has a gymnasium where you can do a few stretches (for a fee), while Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has a meditation center that’s available to travelers at no cost. The quiet corner of an airport lounge also works as a suitable place to do some yoga if your airport doesn’t offer an appropriate facility.

Want to get some cardio in during your layover? AirportGyms.com is a useful Web site where you can search for fitness centers in or around airports in the U.S. and Canada. If there’s no gym in your airport, stuff some sweats into your carry-on bag and go for a jog around the terminals. This is best to do at an airport that offers shower facilities — be considerate of the person who will have to sit inches away from your sweaty armpits on the next flight.

Sleepsleeping

Some travelers think sleeping in the airport is disturbingly analogous to sleeping on the street (especially during an overnight layover), while others have no qualms about catching some Z’s on a terminal bench. One’s comfort level depends on a number of factors, from personal experience to conditions in the airport in which you’re staying. Many airports have designated sleeping sections or special sleep chairs that make for painless napping. Hong Kong International Airport, South Korea’s Incheon International Airport and Vancouver International Airport are a few major hubs that offer comfy lounge chairs and padded benches on which travelers can fully stretch out.

If you’re planning to spend the entire night on an airport bench, you may be awakened by airport security guards who aren’t fond of travelers setting up camp in public, depending on what airport you’re snoozing in. Stay overnight in the airport at your own risk.

Get a Room

Your eyes are heavy after a seven-hour red eye, but you don’t like the idea of dozing off in public. There’s a solution. Consider paying for short-term lodging, even if it’s for a layover that’s only a half-day or so long — it may be cheaper than you think and well worth the cost.

London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schipol airports all have YOTEL facilities, which are accommodations within the airport terminals inspired by Japanese capsule hotels. A standard cabin can be rented for a minimum of four hours, and comes with a bathroom with shower, a bed, a fold-out desk and a flat-screen TV (all amazingly squeezed into seven square meters).

To get the cheapest rate at an airport hotel, plan ahead as opposed to showing up and requesting a room on the spot. Check rates online for airport hotels before you leave for your trip, and keep an eye out for special rates and other offers. On Hotels.com, we found rates at the Days Inn Airport Best Road, located just 1,600 yards from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for $47 per night plus taxes, including free shuttle service to and from the airport — which is arguably a reasonable price to pay for a few hours of peace and quiet during a layover.

Play a Gamepoker

Pack one or two board games in your carry-on and get your travel companion or a friendly stranger waiting in your terminal to join in on the fun. Computer solitaire doesn’t count; get your face away from that computer screen for half an hour and engage with a real human being — it’s a great way to pass the time. Some good, packable games include Bananagrams, Travel Scrabble and Yahtzee To Go.

Chat with a Stranger

Chatting it up with an approachable stranger at the airport bar, in the lounge or in a restaurant could lead to a short, dull conversation at worst and a fascinating glimpse into a fellow traveler’s experiences at best. Talk to someone waiting near your gate; odds are you’ll both be heading to the same place. If the person is a local or a repeat visitor to your destination, your chat could yield a wealth of valuable vacation tips.

Eat Like a King

Airport food is notoriously bad, but there are definitely some exceptions to this rule. Select airport eateries offer genuine gourmet cuisine, from locally inspired classics to luxurious dishes. Stranded in JFK? Skip the KFC Express and head to La Vie, a French cafe that serves sophisticated fare like sauteed prawns Provencal and sole meuniere. There’s a popular Legal Sea Foods restaurant at Boston Logan Airport where travelers can get the same fresh fruits de la mer as those served downtown.

On the international front, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently set up shop in at London’s Heathrow Airport with a Michelin-starred restaurant cleverly called Plane Food. Travelers in a hurry can pick up a Plane Food “picnic” in a portable shoulder bag and bring their gourmet meal on the plane (warning: may cause jealous seatmates).

Play an Instrumentguitar

The guy who led stranded travelers in a sing-along at Newark Airport became a hero for the moment (and a YouTube sensation) when he saved dozens of passengers from their momentary boredom with his trusty guitar. Entertain yourself and others around you by packing your instrument and playing some tunes. If you’re especially talented, perform next to an upturned hat and use the proceeds to cover your baggage fees.

People Watch

Lots of big cities are famed for their people watching opportunities. In particular, New York comes to mind, and there’s even an amusing Web site, OverheardinNewYork.com, that features snippets of conversation from around the Big Apple. I haven’t found an airport version of this site, but I bet it would be a fabulous read.

With their hodgepodge of interesting characters from every corner of the globe rushing about, airports are the perfect places to conduct casual anthropological research. You’re in a public place, so there’s nothing wrong with eavesdropping on a loud conversation or taking a second look at the 20-something anarchist with tear-drop tattoos on his face. Share the interesting things you see and hear on Facebook (we’d love to read about them).

Original source: Independent Traveler

Will your flight be grounded? Ask ‘The Cancellator’

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

-by Erin

Between the polar vortex and record snowfalls, most of us have had quite a winter. And if you add travel and flying into the wintry mix, you should consider yourself lucky if you made it to your final destination on time. But the weather is not the only reason why tens of thousands of passengers might find themselves stranded and struggling to make their way home.  Watch the video below and read the article to learn about ‘The Cancellator’, a computer system that helps to determine which flights will actually take off, and what preparations you can take to try and make it to your destination on time.

cancellator
click here to watch the CBS News video


A computer system named ‘The Cancellator’ decides if your flight is grounded, report says

by Claudine Zap

Meet the Cancellator: the “Terminator” of airline travel. The computer system decides which flights will go, and which will be cancelled, according to Time magazine’s latest cover story.

“The Cancellator,” the nickname American Airlines employees apparently gave their system, “attempts to keep the chaos in the system to a minimum even as it maximizes the headaches for the unlucky. The idea is to use predictive models to cancel flights early, before people even leave for the airport,” according to Time. Other airlines use similar programs.

More than 75,000 flights have been canceled since Dec. 1, according to CBS “This Morning.” In fact, Time magazine asserts — and passenger experience may confirm — that more flights have been grounded this winter than at any other time since 1987

The paralyzing polar vortex combined with government regulations that slap airlines with steep fines for keeping passengers stuck on the tarmac has led airlines to “prespond”— cancel flights before travelers even arrive at the airport.

Which flights are nixed is decided by these Cancellator systems. “Turns out, the cancellations most travelers experience as random and cruel are anything but,” the Time story notes

“The Cancellator is the series of programs that decides who flies,” Time magazine assistant managing editor of Bill Saporito told ” CBS This Morning.” He traveled to the American Airlines operations center during a recent winter storm to see how the fate of travelers was handled.

“There’s a weighting system that takes a look at who’s flying, where are they going, where are the jets, where are the pilots, everything has to be measured.”

How do you beat the system? International flights are less likely to be canceled, Saporito says. “If you’re on a domestic flight that has a crew that’s ferrying to an international flight, that’s not going to be canceled, because if they cancel that flight they’d have to cancel the international flight.”

If your flight is full of travelers who won’t be connecting to another flight, you might be out of luck. Ditto for flying from one busy hub to another, such as Dallas to New York, because it will be easier to rebook the flight, writes Saporito. Airlines also factor in the price you paid for your ticket. Discount leisure fare customers will take a back seat to full-fare business fliers.

Original source: Yahoo Travel

What to expect on an Arctic Expedition cruise

Monday, February 17th, 2014

-by Erin

spitsbergen main2

Since we announced our cruise to Spitsbergen, we have had people calling and asking: What exactly is an Arctic Expedition Cruise?  Where is Spitsbergen?  Why would I want to book a trip to the Arctic when I have a foot of snow in my back yard?

We thought it might be helpful to hear about the adventure first-hand.  Read the article below to learn more about what exactly you will encounter on an Arctic Expedition Cruise and you’ll see why you should consider joining us on this truly once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Click here for more information on our awesome expedition to Spitsbergen – only 3 cabins remain!


An Arctic Expedition Cruise: What to Expect

by Nellie Huang

I’ve dreamt of going to the Polar Regions ever since I got bitten by the travel bug: the idea of entering one of the most remote parts of the world, coming face to face with wildlife, trudging on ice was intoxicating. So when I was setting off on my Arctic expedition, I had a whole world of expectations.

The Arctic definitely did not disappoint. The wildlife encounters we had, the thrill of hiking on glaciers, the sensation of swimming in Arctic waters and the stimulation provided by the stunning environment – all made it one of the best trips of my life.

Sure enough, an Arctic expedition might not be for everyone. There are those who prefer independent trips to guided tours and those who’d rather stay in the warmth of the cruise then venture out into the cold, choppy sea. For those who are considering going on an expedition cruise, this might help you make your decision.spitsbergen main1

They are worlds apart. If you’re worried about environmental impact, you’ll be glad to know an expedition cruise is much smaller than a holiday cruise, G Adventures’ M/S Expedition ship takes up to only 120 passengers. Only expedition cruises provide educational lectures conducted by experts onboard, each of them specializing in a different field. Onboard an expedition cruise, passengers also get to receive daily expedition reports and wildlife lists.

Independent travelers who are used to exploring on your own should know that due to safety reasons, passengers are asked to follow behind the expedition leader/guide at all times. There is a strict protocol to this, and for good reasons, as polar bear attacks in the Arctic are not uncommon. That said, for those who are worried about safety, rest assured that safety is the priority of these expeditions and plenty of precautions are taken by the team to make sure the trip goes smoothly.

From previous expedition experiences, I was expecting to go on long day-hikes or landings that would last more than half a day. But as mentioned above, hikes in the Arctic are limited to short walks of not more than three hours due to safety reasons. Each time we did a landing, the expedition team had to spread out and enclose a perimeter and not to mention, carry a rifle with them, to ensure our safety.spitsbergen marquis

Travelers who go on such expedition cruises tend to be adventurous, responsible travelers. There is a wide range of people who come onboard: from retirees to young outdoor travelers to adventure-seeking families. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people on the cruise, many of whom were solo travelers like me. Some of us have become lifetime friends and we’re already planning our next expedition cruise together.

So if these information about the Arctic expedition cruise fall within your expectations, then don’t hesitate – it’s time to make that dream come true.

Original source: G Adventures

8 Tips for Busy Travelers

Friday, February 7th, 2014

-by Erin

8 Tips for Busy Travelers

Many frequent and hardcore travelers are extremely busy people. One type of traveler crams business and pleasure trips into single junkets. Another type corrals an entire family through an itinerary that would kill a hardy donkey, let alone an exhausted working parent. Another type micromanages their trip down to the minute such that they’re setting alarms at all times of day to keep themselves on schedule. And then there are those who are so busy they can barely find enough time to take their vacations, much less do all the nuts-and-bolts tasks of planning those vacations.

Below, you will find eight tips to make your trips more efficient and to meet the ultimate goal of any busy traveler: to get you there on time and with minimal hassle.

But First: Slow Down, You Move Too Fastrelaxing foot massage

Before we get started here, let’s take a step back and think about slowing down. I appreciate that to do both of those (step back and slow down) at the same time might be tough for some of us, so grab the arms of your chair and take a deep breath first.

Okay.

In some cases, folks just need to slow the heck down. It wasn’t so long ago that you’d take a boat to Europe. Travelers in less hyper-developed countries will continue to experience maddening slowdowns and complete shutdowns; in the nation of the all-night CVS and the 24-hour ATM, some folks are shocked to hear “I’m sorry, sir, we’re closed.”

Time isn’t always going to bend to your will; for your own sanity, you’d better get used to it.

Okay, that’s enough deep breathing and slowing down for a weekday. Let’s put the hammer down and get back up to speed. Here come the tips:

1. Travel WAY light.airport luggage

This is the one key thing you can do to guarantee easier passage through security, tight connections, terminal shutdowns, backtracking planes, and other serious and mundane hazards of post-9/11 travel. It’s also the best way to avoid the many baggage fees that the airlines are now heaping on travelers who dare to bring more than a carry-on.

2. Dress for success at security.

Your favorite traveling clothes and accessories could cause slowdowns at airport security. Leave the jewelry at home, remove your piercings (if possible) and wear clothing that won’t hold you up in the security line — like slip-on shoes, belts with plastic buckles instead of metal, and simple clothing that doesn’t require elaborate searching.

3. Expect delays.traffic

A truly busy person has learned how to move projects around, make doctor’s appointments from the train platform, walk the dog while the coffee’s brewing. If you’re this kind of person, you’re probably only truly put out if you can’t get anything done at all. Thus, a couple of traveling items to help you cope with those all-too-frequent delays at the airport:

Program the phone numbers of your airline, car rental company, shuttle service and hotel into your cell phone. If you’ve got time to kill during a flight delay, you can make a few calls and provide your new ETA to anyone waiting for you at your destination. (For even more efficiency, check to see which other airlines also fly your itinerary and program their phone numbers in as well — that way if your original flight is delayed, you can start calling around for alternatives.)

Have a to-do list of productive things you can work on during delays. This might be a good time to read that chapter in your guidebook on the history of the place you’re visiting, or to sketch out a detailed itinerary for the first few days of your trip.

4. Use a travel agent.

Why not leave all the heavy lifting to someone else? Consider the difference between scouring countless websites for the best deal and itinerary, then making a purchase, then putting together your own travel itinerary versus placing one phone call or e-mail to your travel agent – this could add up to hours of your life on every trip.

5. Ask for seats near the front of the plane.airplane

You’ll get on last, granting you time to get more things done before boarding lockdown, and you’ll get off first. Many airlines now allow you to select your seat online at the time of booking or check-in (sometimes for a fee) – this is the best way to guarantee yourself the seat you want.

6. Know where the airport gas station is.

If you are responsible for returning your rental car with a full tank of gas, ask where the closest gas station is before you drive off the lot. This way you won’t be driving around looking and hoping for a gas station to fill your tank just before returning.

7. Reuse your packing list.

If you’re the type of traveler that scribbles down a hasty packing list before every trip (and inevitably forgets some vital item each time), get organized by creating a single comprehensive packing list and saving it on your computer. Before each trip, customize the list as necessary and then print out a copy to refer to as you pack.

8. Use these time-tested tactics.

Fly direct. Connections cost time; missed connections cost lots of time. Avoid layovers where you can.
Fly early in the day; there are fewer delays, cancellations and people in the airport.
Consider alternate airports. They’re less crowded and often better located than the big hubs, and they have fewer flights going in and out – reducing your chances of delays.

Original source: Independent Traveler