Archive for the ‘US travel’ Category

Bureau of Transportation Statistics – a great online resource

Friday, November 18th, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am often amazed at the resources that pop up online without much fanfare.  One for Transportation is the Research and Innovation Technology Administration, thankfully shortened to  “RITA” , which is part of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at BTS.gov .     Here you’ll find flight, airline, and airport statistics provided by the US Government that include everything from flight delays to jobs in the industry.   If you are a researcher this is an essential resource, and even travelers will find the information very interesting.   Did you know, for example, that extra baggage fees were $887 million – almost a billion dollars –  in the second quarter of 2011.  This is a lot of extra revenue for the airlines and also suggests an obvious budget cutting travel tip – travel light and use a carry on rather than checked baggage!     You won’t save $887 million, but one of the reasons that number is so high is that the extra baggage fees have become exceptionally high over the last few years as many flights do NOT provide any free checked bags.   My personal experience has been that travelling light has many, many advantages.    For example on our 2010 family trip to Venice, Italy we decided to walk to our hotel from the train station rather than hire a water taxi.   This was a charming walk because we only had one bag each to roll along, with more it would not have been possible.

 

Nice Printable Travel Guides from PBS Travel: Burt Wolf’s “Travel and Traditions”

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Although some appear a bit dated, PBS’ travel host Burt Wolf has some great printable guides for the many cities he has featured on his PBS’ Travel show “Travels and Traditions with Burt Wolf” As an example see this Boston Guide in PDF form: Boston by Burt

Some will obviously prefer large guidebooks that have a lot more information, and my personal approach is to plan my trips with a file featuring all the things I want to try to see, cut and pasted in from pre-trip surfing.   However Burt’s guides offer a very nicely organized, compact alternative to heavy travel guides, especially if only be staying in a city for a short time.

PBS’s Travel hosts are many and varied and in my opinion some are better suited to different travel styles.   Young adventurous budget travelers may relate best to “Globe Trekker”, though I also find it the most entertaining of the shows.   Legendary European expert and guide Rick Steves is by far the best known on the PBS Travel team, and I highly recommend his website for  great “insider” travel tips you may not find elsewhere.

Venture Card Frequent Flyer Miles – unrestricted but “expensive” to use

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Unless you lost your television you’ve seen the ads for the new Capitol One Venture Card.    They feature Alex Baldwin talking about the benefits of using the Venture miles anytime and on any airline.   If you were among the lucky folks who participated in their initial “billion mile” promotion, you had up to 100,000 existing miles matched by Capitol One, a value of about $1000 for reasons you’ll see if you read on.

Whereas most frequent flyer programs such as United’s Mileage Plus or Delta’s Skymiles have a separate reservation system for you to use to book your frequent flyer tickets, Venture offers that option OR the option of simply purchasing a ticket with real dollars and any system using your Venture Card.    Afterwards you can apply for a rebate of the cost of the ticket using your Venture miles which are valued at a penny each.     For example if my ticket cost $400  I would buy it with dollars and then ask them to credit back my $400 and deduct  40,000 miles from my account.     Neat, right?    Yes, but note how expensive the ticket can be compared to the “old” standards of needing only about 25,000 frequent flyer miles for a round trip.     Complicating matters is the fact that mileage programs – especially Delta Skymiles and American Airlines in my experience – seem to be getting stingier in terms of offering good options for frequent flyers.    Unless you have a lot of flexibility you’ll probably find it hard to get cheap seats using regular miles.     To this extent they are lining up with the Venture style miles – options are good as long as you are willing to use a LOT of miles.

Important DELTA Skymiles Tip:   Sometimes the ONE WAY will cost as many miles as a ROUND TRIP, so in some cases you should simply add a “return” leg to your trip to get a second one way ticket.     Even if you wind up paying a change fee of up to $150 later to change the dates, this is probably worth it.        Delta now seems to offer both the least and most expensive frequent flyers deals with one ways as low as 8500 miles but short term round trips often at 60,000.

The golden rule as always with frequent flyer programs as well as life in general, if you are not rich, then:

BE FLEXIBLE.

TSA Tips for Travelers

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The TSA Website regularly offers features and tips on travel, and you’ll be better prepared if you check in before trips.     Rules are starting to stabilize after the dramatic security changes created by the 9/11 terror attacks on the USA, but unless you fly regularly you may be unpleasantly surprised by some of the rules.

The most important change since 9/11 has been the liquids rules, which restrict the amount of liquid you can bring through security.    I think the simplest approach if you check bags is to place your gels and liquids there, but if you need to carry them be sure they conform to the rules or you may loose that expensive new shampoo you just bought for the trip.

Liquids rules from TSA – remember it’s 3-1-1 3 ounce or LESS container in a SINGLE ONE QUART clear bag.    You may place several containers in the same quart clear bag.

Airport Codes and Distance Calculator

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

This blog is part of a network of information provided by several blogs and websites.

Airport City Codes database and distance calculators are here:
CitycodesDatabase Time and Distance Calculator

Retirement Community Profiles are a RetireUSA.net

Travel and History is our largest project with history and travel information for the USA and parts of Europe.

Passport Rule Change for AIR Travel to Mexico, Canada, Carribbean.

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Passport rules have been relaxed for air travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. My understanding is that you can still travel to Canada and Mexico by sea or by car *without* a passport until January of 2008. However given the slowdowns, bottlenecks, and government confusion it’s a very good idea for anybody who thinks they might be heading out of the country over the next few years to …. get a passport. Go to the official US passport site HERE for more information about getting a passport.

From US Passport Official Website:

U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda who have applied for but not yet received passports can nevertheless temporarily enter and depart from the United States by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through September 30, 2007