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Travel Advice

Travel Advice

Packing cubes: the essential tools of Team Carryon

August 18, 2016 • By

You may recall that I offered my 12 travel packing tips, a few years back and while they are still valid, it’s always cool to know that there are new developments on the airline baggage front.  It all began with the old fashioned plastic vacuum packs that you could store your clothes in and suction out the excess air with a vacuum cleaner.  Good times, right?

Now, fast forward a few years and the newest tool in efficient packing are packing cubes.  What are they, you ask?  They are small cloth cases with patches of netting that allow the clothes to breathe and sturdy zippers to contain them.

shacke pak 4

Let’s face it.  We are all guilty of over packing and you can never fully appreciate what problems it causes until you arrive at your destination.  You almost never wear everything that you’ve packed or you feel as if you didn’t pack enough.  By planning ahead and thinking realistically, you can narrow down your choices based on what you actually plan to do on your vacation.READ MORE


Travel Advice

Racial profiling in aviation

August 7, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the sixth of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. Today, I am going to write a “Discussion” post that I hope will encourage a dialogue about this compelling issue.  If you wouldn’t mind, please do me a HUGE favor and respond to the 5 question anonymous survey that will appear as a pop-up below.

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One of the most controversial stories in travel news today is the reports of Muslims being removed from airline flights for seemingly innocuous reasons.

Just this week, two American Muslim women were asked to leave an American Airlines flight after one of them talked to another (white male) passenger about the lack of food and water during their five hour delay on the tarmac.  The male attendant claimed that they (the woman who was complaining and her friend who happened to have been watching a tv drama at the time) made him feel unsafe.

The attendant told her “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.”  The woman asked him for his name since he wasn’t wearing a badge and he refused.  She decided to take a photo of him so that she would be able to identify him when she lodged a complaint.  She and her friend were essentially escorted out because the photo taking was a violation.READ MORE


Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to enduring long International Flights

August 3, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the second of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. I am going to add a new installment to my Newbie’s Guide series and I hope that you find it helpful to you!

You did it!  You’ve just booked your first international trip and you are stoked!!  You’ve always dreamed of seeing _____ (insert your dream destination) and you now have to become acquainted with the fact that you will be traveling a fairly long distance.

How long you say?  Depending on where you plan to land, you can count on at least 8 hours of flight time.  That’s a long time to sit in a flying tin can, but fear not, I will give you some tips on how to get through the experience without losing your marbles.

long haul

First, take care of some housekeeping issues before your trip

If you are not currently signed up with the Global Entry program, I would advise you to do so.  It will save you a major headache when traveling period, but especially internationally.  It will allow you to smoothly transition from customs to your gate during your departure and from customs to your destination upon arrival.READ MORE


North America, Travel Advice

Spotlight on Joseph Strauss, Chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge

July 20, 2016 • By

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I must confess.  Until we actually arrived in San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge in person, I had no idea that it was flanked by the Golden Gate Park!

Located in the center of it, was a statue of a man that I was not familiar with.  His name was Joseph Strauss and he along with Charles Alton Ellis, the man who is largely credited with the actual structural design, is responsible for bringing the Golden Gate Bridge to life.READ MORE


Consumer Advice, Lifestyle, Travel Advice

The Top 5 Carry-on Bags Under $60

July 12, 2016 • By

Recently, after years of inadequate solutions to my carry-on bag problem, I had to finally purchase one that suited all my needs. The search was far too long and tedious. After all, how hard is it find a tote bag with a shoulder strap, multiple organizer pockets and a laptop compartment?

Apparently, I underestimated what’s out there and, perhaps, my overly critical eye because it took several months to locate the perfect bag. Now that I’ve been through the fire, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the concerns of today’s jet setter and I’ve compiled a list of options that should satisfy the most persnickety amongst you- at an affordable price.

 

For The Traditionalist – $49

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Lifestyle, Travel Advice

Exploring The Negro Motorist Green Book

July 5, 2016 • By

It was a precursor to today’s TripAdvisor but it literally saved lives……

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In the not so distance past, traveling for black people was not as pleasant an undertaking as we may view it today.  Right after Reconstruction, laws were passed to ensure the permanent second class status of black people.  Many whites felt that blacks were ‘too free’, so laws were instituted to make sure that they knew their ‘place’ in society.

They were not allowed to travel freely like white people.  Many hoteliers refused them service as did restaurants, gas stations, amusement parks, etc.  It was literally life-threatening for those who found themselves in the unfortunate situation of being caught in ‘Sundown towns’.  It wasn’t unusual that direct eye contact with or speaking to whites could get you thrown in jail for the offense of ‘reckless eyeballing’, assaulted or even killed.READ MORE


North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

A day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains

June 28, 2016 • By

You may recall that I purchased an annual National parks pass in anticipation of my visit to Utah last year.  Since I was  visiting Gatlinburg again to spend time with family, I figured that we might as well check out the Great Smokies while we were there.

Due to an agreement between the state of Tennessee and the Federal government, the Great Smoky Mountains does not have an entry fee, so no annual pass was needed.  However, as we drove past the entrance, it reminded me of our time at Zion National Park, where you traverse a long winding road that has various points of interest on the side of the road along the way.

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North America, Travel Advice

A Fisherman’s Paradise called Lake Ramona

May 24, 2016 • By

 

It’s the unexpected, magical things in life that keeps you excited about it.  There’s always something special that you can find in your own backyard that makes you realize how lucky you are to be in such close proximity to it.

Lake Ramona is such a place.  I was surprised how close it was to my own house.  Literally, serenity is just a short drive away from my humble abode.  This man-made lake was built by  William Abner “Bill” Waters and his family.  After four years of construction, he opened it up to the public in the summer of 1968.READ MORE


City Views, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

48 Hours Discovering the Magical Parks of Utah

November 30, 2015 • By
utah

The Petroglyphs of Monument Valley, Utah

A Few of the Many Beautiful Sights of Utah

I’ve developed a fond appreciation for brief vacations.  If nothing else, it proves that you can still enjoy and experience a great deal that a city has to offer without spending an extended period of time there.  I’ve spent 24 hours in Amsterdam and 36 hours in Savannah and didn’t feel like I sacrificed anything in the process.  When I managed to find an exceptional fare from Atlanta to Salt Lake City for $139.00 RT via Google Flights, I  knew that I had to book it.

While I enjoy touring cities with the best of them, nothing makes me feel closest to the Creator than experiencing the Great Outdoors.  I have a poster of the Petroglyphs in Monument Valley in Utah hanging in my office.  After looking at it for five years, I decided that there was no time like the present.  In fact, I booked the trip for early November which happened to be during the off season, but thankfully the parks were still open.

My first order of business was to order an annual park pass for $85.00 (including shipping; it arrived in less than a week) from the nearly century old National Park Service.   The passes are free for park volunteers, members of the military and the disabled.  Citizens 62 years or older can get a lifetime pass for $10.00.

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Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to using Google Flights to search for the best fares

October 26, 2015 • By

Planning trips can be confusing to the inexperienced.  But if there is only one thing that you take from this post let it be this: “Booking your flight is the absolute first thing that you must do when planning your vacation.”  Why?  Because airfare will arguably be the most volatile expense that you will incur.  The cost of gas (as of this writing) is steadily declining, so airlines are offering fantastic bargains as a result.  However, these great fares aren’t available for all destinations.

That makes it all the more critical to plan ahead, monitor flight prices, be flexible with your departure dates and destinations as much as possible because some times are better than others.

Once you’ve decided where you want to go, my suggestion is that you start with “Google Flights“.  Much like its search engine counterpart, it allows you to search for the best flight deals to any destination.

Here’s how it works:

Once you have reached the Google Flights home page, you will see a search box.  The first screen will give you the option of selecting a round trip (where you travel to one destination and take a return trip back to where you started), a one way (is just as it sounds, you go to a destination with no plans to return or if you’re not exactly sure when you will, you can purchase a return one way ticket at a later date) or you can choose the multi-city option if you are planning on visiting several locations during the course of your vacation.

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