The Herald-Dispatch |


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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cruising With Elvis

Elvis fans will want to book passage on the first authentic, fully licensed specialty cruise that celebrates the music and life of the legendary Elvis Presley. The four-day cruise is scheduled to depart from Jacksonville, Fla., on August 30, 2007, and will feature visits to Freeport and Nassau, The Bahamas.

This one-of-a-kind voyage will be hosted by Jerry Schilling, longtime friend and confidant of the late Elvis Presley, and author of the book, Me and a Guy Named Elvis. Entertainment during the cruise will include live shows from artists who performed with Elvis and have been recognized for continuing his musical legacy, including the TCB Band, the Jordanaires, the Imperials, the Dempseys, Ronnie McDowell, Terry Mike Jeffrey & Band, Ruby Wilson and others.

For additional information on cruise rates and cabin availability or to book your cabin contact admin@civilizedtours.com.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Are there any tour operators that do not charge a single travel extra?

Great question. For a variety of reasons there are quite a few people that would love to travel but do not have a traveling companion.

Unfortunately I'm not aware of any company that has an across-the-board policy of allowing single travelers to stay in their own accommodations on a tour without paying a higher per-person rate than travelers who book as a pair. Essentially, tour companies are charged a flat room rate and two people in a room share this cost by basically paying 50% each while the single traveler pays 100%. It’s not really a penalty or premium tacked on by the tour operator or hotelier rather a fact of pricing. Even when single-person accommodations are available, you'll usually still have to pay a hefty fee, although not as much as if you were staying alone in a double room.

However, this doesn't mean it's impossible to avoid paying a single supplement. The easiest way to keep from paying extra is to book with a tour company that has a roommate-matching program that pairs single travelers together as roommates in double-occupancy accommodations. Tour operators that offer such programs include Elderhostel, Brennan, Collette, Tauck, Trafalgar, and Uniworld. It's not always guaranteed the company will be able to find you a roommate or that roommate will be of the same gender but they will work with you. These are all good companies but tend to be more in the deluxe upper end category.

Another option is to book a tour with a company that specializes in singles travel and offers a roommate-match guarantee. Two singles tour operators worth looking into are Singles Travel International (
http://www.singlestravelintl.com) and All Singles Travel (http://www.sparklingspirit.com/allsinglestravel).

I would also check with some of your local travel agencies or tour operators and see if they have any solo travelers looking for roommates. I know that on the educational tours offered by Ohio University and Travel World travel agency, (
www.4travelworld.com) they will try to match up same gender travelers. Again they will try but there’s no guarantee that another single traveler will sign up for the trip.

If you'd really rather stay in private single accommodations, it's difficult to dodge the single supplement. However, on rare occasions, a tour operator may reduce or eliminate the extra cost for single accommodations when bookings are slow and a tour is unlikely to fill. One company that regularly promotes solo-traveler deals is Tauck, which offers single accommodations for little or no extra fee on select tour departures. These are generally last minute deals so have your passport ready and check book in hand when you contact these suppliers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Travel Agents Are Staging a Comeback

According to the June issue of Smart Money magazine, the magazine of The Wall Street Journal, times have changed. The magazine features an article headlined "Forget Online, Travel Agents Get Better Deals". The article paints a very favorable picture of travel agents with statements like "written off as dinosaurs not so long ago, agents are seeing a welcome bump in business, with 2006 average weekly sales per agent location up 15 percent over the year before." The magazine is on most new stands now.

If you travel for business or pleasure then it’s time to cultivate a relationship with a local travel agent and reap the benefits of their experience.




Saturday, May 19, 2007

Flight delays

Weather impacted my last couple of air journeys so here’s web site that I’m always going to check prior to flying. It’s the FAA’s flight delay information center located at http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp

On the road

I've been off traveling and left the lap top at home. But I did some research and jointed down notes the old fashioned way & will share my explorations and discoveries with you in upcoming posts.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Novice" air travel planner mistake # 1

In my “Destination Europe” class the other day a student proudly & loudly proclaimed that he’d found a non-stop flight from Columbus OH to Glasgow Scotland. Fine was my reply followed with let’s take a closer look at your research.

His printed flight data listed arrival & departure times and cities in bold print. Only upon closer examination of the very small print did we discover that he had to change planes in Newark NJ plus there was a 10 hour lay over.

He made a common mistake that many novice planners make. He took the first line of flight availability that showed on his computer.

We scrolled down the screen and not only found a better connection but a substantially lower air fare.

The point here is don’t always assume that the 1st information displayed is the best schedule and/or fare. Scroll down the page, go to the next screen and read the fine print.

Still having doubts about if you’ve located the best deal? Then contact your local travel agent and have them search and book your flights. There is a pretty good chance that they save you money and a lot of time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

In response to questions about flying, airport x-rays & film

Traveling with a camera? Want to make sure you do not damage your film?

  • 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 walk through and hand wand security devices shouldn't affect your film.
  • If you're still really afraid about x-rays & your film then go get a digital camera.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Do you have lots of frequent flier miles from several different airlines and multiple frequent hotel guest accounts? Check out www.points.com and learn how you can manage your accounts at one web address. On this integrated site you can track, swap, earn, buy & redeem awards from your personal frequent flyer/traveler accounts. Simply provide your account numbers and you can accurately track and manage multiple reward program balances on this one convenient location.

A word of caution not all programs are listed but new participants are frequently added.

Use their simple interface to transfer and consolidate miles and points between your favorite travel reward programs.

Many people don't know that they can buy those few extra miles or points they need to get that flight or hotel room reward, or to give to friends or family. The answers are here on
www.points.com.

Everyone likes to earn miles and points in their favorite program - especially if they're rewarded for something they were going to do anyway. Let this service show you how you can earn extra points and miles on non travel related purchases.

The cost of membership for this service: free. Now you can’t beat that can you?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines "Happy Hour" Sales Event

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has recently re-introduced their Happy Hour Specials as a Royal Caribbean SALES EVENT. This new Sales Event program features great one-day only specials on selected cruise-tours vacations. The next Happy Hour sale is set for Tuesday, 5/8/2007. These special fares can only be booked on Tuesday May 8th but contact your travel agent in advance & discover what sailing dates and cabins are available.

More on historic Philadelphia

Since Philadelphia’s old city is best seen by foot, The Constitutional Walking is the best way to explore America's Birthplace, taking you behind the scenes to the places where other tours cannot venture. Get up close with a High-Definition Historical Experience™ and see more than 20 historic sites in 75 minutes on a 1.25 mile outdoor walking journey, including Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, National Constitution Center, Declaration House and Carpenters’ Hall. Other stops include Franklin Court, Christ Church Burial Ground, The First & Second Bank of the U.S, Congress Hall, Old City Hall and Christ Church. Information on walking tours is available on-line at http://www.theconstitutional.com or 215.525.1776.

One more do not miss activity is the “Lights of Liberty” walk. This is a moonlit journey through Independence National Historical Park which relives the American Revolution through laser light projections, 3D sound, and the music of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Revolutionary Philadelphia comes alive in this dramatic performance. Details on the Lights of Liberty can be found at http://www.lightsofliberty.org and 1-877-GO-2-1776

When you are touring Philadelphia’s historic old town district make the time to take in a meal at the City Tavern. This is an 18th century that serves up a bill of fare that many of our founding fathers would recognize. When John Adams arrived in Philadelphia in August of 1774, to attend the First Continental Congress, he was greeted by leading citizens and immediately taken to the tavern he would call "the most genteel tavern in America." The tavern Adams referred to, City Tavern was not yet a year old and was already caught in momentous events. Tradition and history reside here and the menu tends to be a bit pricey but it’s well worth it. Tavern details are located at http://www.citytavern.com or 215.413.1443.

In June the Travel Professor is continuing his study of American Colonial history and heading off the Boston Mass and the surrounding area. Stay tuned as we walk Freedom's Trail.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Historic "Old City" Philadelphia

For travelers interested in the history of the founding of our nation and major events of our War for Independence then a visit to Philadelphia and the neighboring countryside is a must see. In the old “historic” city of sightseeing stops include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell; all part of Independence National Historical Park operated by the National Park Service.

Admission to these sights is free but there is a limited amount of timed admissions to Independence Hall. Free tickets are distributed daily at 830am however they go quickly so be there early or you may miss out. If you want to guarantee admission you can reserve your admission time on line and pay a nominal $1.75 service fee per ticket. More information on the park and Independence Hall tickets can be found online at
http://www.nps.gov/inde.

This is a compact area, easy to walk with street vendors and quaint dining choices. I'd plan on spending a good 1/2 day even all day especially if you participate in the narrated walking tours. Like any major city parking can be difficult but there's a large underground garage at the National Constitution Center that has been available when I was there.

Surrounding historical attractions include Valley Forge, Washington crossing the Delaware River sites and the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth and Brandywine. We’ll look at these venues a little later.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Philadelphia Freedom

I just returned from a wonderful visit to Philadelphia the cradle of our nation’s creation If you haven’t visited the historic district of “Philly” I recommend that you add it to your must visit list. Plus there is a wealth of additional attractions in the city and the surrounding countryside.

It’s about a 9-10 drive from the river cities but as you travel through some wonderful landscape you will be tempted to jump off the highway and explore interesting attractions along the along the way. Intermediate stops offer Civil War history, the Pennsylvania Dutch, shopping, world class gardens, fine dining even Sesame Street Place.

In my next few posts I’ll share some of my explorations on this “Road to Revolution” journey, so check back often and see how my trip went.