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The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email thetravelprofessor@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Traveling with a non digal camera

Here are a few tips for the reader that wanted to know about traveling with a camera these day:

· High-speed film is the most susceptible to damage, but all your film is at risk.

· The safest bet for film is to buy it after you arrive and develop it before you go. This may not be the cheapest route, but it is the best guarantee to keep your memories safe.

· Carrying your film in your checked bags used to be a safer bet, but with stronger bomb detection devices, your film is now more likely to get damaged.

· Buy special carrying cases designed for protecting film.

· You can ask for a manual inspection in the United States and some foreign airports to avoid the x-rays if you place your film in your carry-on bag.

· The walkthrough and hand wand security devices shouldn’t affect your film.

Travel Show at the Huntington Mall

The fine folks at National Travel are having a travel show today January 27th at the mall in Barboursville, WV. It's scheduled to run from noon until 5:00pm. If you are out & about stop by and see what vacation offerings they have for the upcoming year.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Super bowl ticket info

The fax machine and email inbox have been humming with Super Bowl travel offers and I wanted to share some fast facts with you. Tickets for the 1st Super Bowl played in January 1967 cost $12.00 and you could have walked up and purchased one on the day of the game. Next weeks game is a total sellout and I’ve seen ticket available on the resell market starting at about $2000.00 a seat. Talk about inflation!

If you are interested in attending next year’s game to be played in the suburbs of Phoenix AZ you need to submit an entry into a ticket raffle. Entries for the random drawing are accepted between Feb. 1 and June 1 of the year preceding the game in question. All entries must include name, address, phone number and email address, and must be sent via certified or registered mail. You will be notified by mail in October or November if you are eligible to purchase Super Bowl XLI tickets. Requests for tickets to Super Bowl XLII, to be played Feb. 3, 2008 in Glendale, Ariz., will be accepted beginning Feb. 1, 2007. Requests should be sent to:
Super Bowl Random Drawing
P.O. Box 49140
Strongsville, OH 44149-0140
Please note: Only one request per address is accepted. Duplicate requests will be ineligible.

The desert is wonderful that time of year so the Travel Professor is booking his hotel, rental car and flights soon and will also be submitting a ticket lottery entry. If I don’t get the tickets at least I can enjoy the game festivities in the Valley of the Sun, play some golf and enjoy the fine Mexican restaurants that are everywhere.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thoughts of tropical breezes

As I scraped ice & snow of the windshield today my thoughts drifted to the warm sunlit palm tree lined beaches of Mexico and the Caribbean and “All-inclusive (AI) vacation packages”. AI getaway packages include roundtrip air transportation, all-inclusive hotel accommodations, resort transfers and more! The all-inclusive resort concept has become the most popular vacation trend over the past several years, and many airlines and tour operators offers some of the best all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean and Costa Rica at prices everyone will appreciate.

You’ll find value, convenience and comfort knowing that your all-inclusive vacation package price generally includes almost everything up front including all meals and snacks, all beverages including domestic alcoholic drinks (some resorts include premium brands!), daytime activities and nighttime entertainment …plus all hotel taxes and gratuities!

In these sea, sun and sand destinations you’ll find outstanding all-inclusive resorts suitable for every taste and budget…from value-priced, comfortable, casual hotels catering to families on a budget, to elegant 5-star luxury resorts featuring award-winning restaurants and outstanding world-class accommodations and facilities and impeccable service standards.

Check with your favorite travel agent and let them shop for you or do your own shopping at applevacations.com or vacationexpress.com, tour operators that offer special departures from Cincinnati or Columbus. Another place to search for vacation getaways in on the major airline websites. More on this in a later piece.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fare Buzz: Celebrity Cruise Lines Caribbean offer

An interesting offer from Celebrity Cruise Lines just buzzed into the Travel Professor’s email inbox so I’m passing it along. On their February 19th sailing of the “Zenith” Celebrity is offering a cabin without a window for a cruise only rate of $649.00 per person, two to a cabin. That’s less than $60.00 a day for your room, fabulous food, entertainment and the warmth of the Caribbean! The “Zenith” sails from Tampa and visits San Juan PR, St Thomas USVI, Phillipsburg, St Maarten, Nassau Bahamas, Tortola BVI and Key West. Some of the additional fees will be airfare, port taxes and other surcharges.

Celebrity Cruises offers a comfortably sophisticated, upscale vacation experience with highly personalized, anticipatory service (guest-to-staff ratio of 2:1); authentic, five-star dining; understated elegance with elements of memorable grandeur, and extraordinary attention to detail. Celebrity tends to attract experienced travelers who appreciate quality, and who desire a top-quality vacation within an inviting, engaging and unpretentious environment.

The catch is that this special opens for sale at 9:00am on Tuesday, January 23rd and available cabins will be limited. So call your favorite travel agent, pack your suntan lotion and passport then embark on the ultimate Western Caribbean cruise vacation.

Rental Car Shock

Someone asked recently about an unpleasant rental car experience that they encountered. They left the rental desk with a rental agreement showing a weekly charge of $159.95. They returned within the 7 day contract period and used the express return service. They followed all of the instructions, filled in the mileage and fuel data, put the keys and paperwork in the rental car company’s drop box then headed off to catch their flights home with the expectations of being charged $159.95 for the rental.

Imagine their surprise when they opened the credit card bill and discovered a rental car charge of over $300.00. What happened to the $159.95 rate? These travelers had just experienced “rental car shock” and the culprit is the hidden fees and taxes tacked on after the rental period. This shocking addition of additional fees and taxes is not unique to the rental car industry these days. Hotels, airlines and other suppliers are piling on the fees.

A recent study conducted by Travelocity, the mega online travel agency, found that these extra charges added more the 28 percent to typical car rental bill. In a certain not to be named Midwestern city the difference between the rental agreement base rate and the final bill was an incredible 63 percent!

How can you protect yourself? You have the right to ask upfront before the rental begins about any extra fees or charges that will be added to your base rate. The rental car agent should be able to calculate the fees in advance and provide you with a good faith estimate of your total rental fee. This way you’ll avoid “car rental shock” and build the total amount into your travel. I have discovered that some car rental company’s website like Alamos will provide an itemized breakdown of base rental rate, additional taxes and fees.

So shop around as the fees and taxes can vary from company to company, do the math and add all the charges together before selecting a rental car company. Often small things like an on the airport or off the airport location will greatly increase or decrease the extra fees.

Happy travels and keep those phone calls and email to the Travel Professor coming.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

To passport or not that is the question!

Do I need a passport or don’t I? This used to be an easy question to answer however

the official travel documentation requirement has changed and currently it seems to

remain in a constant state of flux.

But the answer is simple. YES, get a passport. Regardless of the shifting dates of

when the new rules apply, it is very apparent that US citizens wanting to travel

across international borders will be required to have a valid passport.

In most communities the post office or court house can sort out the application

procedure. You will be required to have an official birth certificate (not a photo

copy), passport photos, the application and fee. They will process your application

and you will be ready to travel in 8 to 10 weeks.

Don’t wait and get your passport application started today. Don’t let your fishing

trip to Canada or church mission trip to Central America be ruined by improper

travel documentation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Upcoming cruise bargains that nobody is talking about

Looking for a cruise bargain that includes long, wonderful days at sea, with only a few ports of call and a unique itinerary? Most cruise ships follow the sun and sail the waters during the peak season of travel within that region. So that means at certain times of the year the cruise lines need to reposition their fleets. Hence we have what is termed a “repositioning.”

When the weather changes in the spring and the fall, many cruise ships join the whales and other seagoing creatures and migrate either north in the summer or south for the winter. Cruise lines must reposition their ships from Alaska to the warmer waters of the Caribbean in the fall, and then move them back to Alaska in the late spring. Some cruise lines that spend their summers in Europe will cross the Atlantic in the late fall to winter in the Caribbean and then reverse the process the next spring. Rather than sail the ships without passengers, cruise lines discount these "repositioning" cruises.

These are special one time sailings that are often not listed in the lines flashy brochures nor posted on their web sites. Why? The marketing costs are too great to promote these departures to the general public and so the lines rely on travel agents and value oriented savvy travelers to promote and fill the cabins on these unique voyages.

Why are repositioning cruises so popular? As expected, price is one of the major factors. The per day cruising cost (referred to as per diem costs) price is often much less than for cruises that embark and disembark in the same port. Next, these cruises are usually longer than a week and include more sea days, which give passengers a relaxing cruise vacation, unencumbered by frantic days in port. However even on these sailing the features and amenities of the cruise product remains the same. Wonderful pampering service, outstanding entertaining and excellent dining!

What are some the negative aspects of repositioning cruises? One downside of repositioning cruises is that many cruisers who love those frantic days in port have to spend a few days of precious vacation time onboard the cruise ship enjoying the daily activity schedule. However you do get to spend a day in port here and there, often off the beaten cruise path. In addition, embarking and disembarking from different ports, often thousands of miles apart, can make airfare more expensive but the cruise lines offer some remarkable bargains. Finally, many working cruise vacationers can't afford to take 9 to 18 days off from work at one long stretch, but if you can then you are embarking on some unique and value priced vacations.

For many the positives outweigh the negatives. Repositioning cruises are a way to stretch the vacation dollar and they offer many unique and remarkable itineraries. To discover more about these sailings contact your favorite local travel agent or the cruise line web site.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thoughts on the $1000-1500 question

One of the problems with request like this is the globally nature of blogging. I’d craft my response around the location of the requester. So I know it’s bad to assume but I’m going to assume that you’re local.
My 1st thoughts are of the west coast of Mexico, Ixtapa-Zihuatenjo in particular.
Go to www.visitimexico.com and click on the destination tab then select Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. These sister cities offer splendid beaches, modern resorts, a sleepy lost in time fishing village, unique shopping, a lush plush tropical jungle setting plus much, much more. Off the tourist t rail these venues are not teeming with tourists like Cancun, Cozumel or Acapulco.
Continental Airlines flies here so visit www.covacations.com or better yet stop by or call a local travel agent.
FYI: A passport will be required for this destination. I’ll talk more on passports later.
This was my 1st thought and I have a few more but again I need some more information. Task a look at my posting that talks about the 4 Wise men & Howie.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Here are some thoughts for the anonymous traveler looking for a not very expensive (about $900.00) trip during a break in summer school.
Follow the advice of these 4 Wise men: Who, What, Where, & When and their sidekick Howie. Ask yourself then answer these questions:
· Who’s traveling? Number of people going with you impacts your prices
· What do I really want to do on this vacation? Shop? Sightseeing intensive? Veg out on the beach? City lights or country life?
· Also what do I need? Air? Car? Cruise? Land package? Self directed or guided tour?
· Where do you want to go? Answering the question should help you narrow down your choices.
· When do I want to go? If you on break from school you should have specific dates.
· Howie is the how much question? How much have you budgeted for travel components? Did you include meals, admissions to museums or attractions in your figure of $900.00? It also is the “how much of a risk taker am I”? Do you need advance reservations or are you willing to wait and see what the last minute specials are.
Some other helpful tips:
· If you’re looking for a real bargain think off season. Summer is high season for Europe but low season to sunny climes like the Caribbean.
· Midweek travel is often less than weekend travel
· Look for all inclusive packages that include meals & beverages.
· Find a good travel agent that can sort out the maze of destinations and specially priced travel packages.

Friday, January 12, 2007

RFI (Request for info)

Someone recently requested a suggestion on an affordable family vacation, but 1st off I really need to know your idea of affordable. The English soccer player that signed on to play in LA at $50 million dollars a year may have a different interpretation to reasonable than you or me.

Give me a bugdet amount, some travel dates, number of people along with some other data and I should be able to sort things out. And this is the same info that you should be giving to your local brick & mortar travel agency.

Getting blogged

I'm a new blogger so I am slowly feeling my way through this new technology. It will be trial and error at the start but I'm confident that I'll get up to speed. Thinking back to my Army days the radio in the tank had push buttons but according to the commo officer it was an ARNVRC12 or something like that.
So ok I worked through that & I'll work this.

I had a student stop by my office bubbling with excitement. She informed me that she has been hired as a customer service representative for Allegiant Air, the new carrier offering non-stop air flights from Tri-State to Orlando.
She continued that she was undecided about her college major & career path but after a few weeks at the airport she was sold on a career in the travel industry.
The Travel Prof tips his hat to this carrier and hopes that the community will support them by flying on them. Full flights means jobs and as the demand for air seats increase we’ll stand to see more flights out of Tri-State. We have already seen USAirways substantially drop their air fares.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Welcome to the new travel blog

Welcome aboard the inaugural flight of the Travel Professor's express.

On the
express we take an insider's look at destinations both foreign and domestic, on or off the beaten path. Our express service will share money and time saving
tips on travel planning, research and bargain finding. We will take a look at
travel careers, employment opportunities and perks like free travel.

So join
me as we journey through the broad travel universe touching on a multitude of topics. And, even though the captain has turned off the seat belt light,
remember to keep them loosely fastened across your lap as we may experience
some unexpected turbulence.

-Steve