Summer is peak season at popular vacation options from U.S. National Parks to theme parks and cruises. Its the time when many travelers are off school and have the time to go which normally drives up pricing. Experts in summertime travel say not to write off the possibility of a late summer vacation that won’t break the bank.
“One way to save on your last minute vacation is to take a shorter vacation or a mini-vacation. It can cut the cost of your trip in half, especially if you do a road trip to a destination not more than a half-day drive from your home. Mini-vacations don’t require weeks of planning but still provide the same basic essentials of any trip: the chance to recharge your batteries, get your mind off of work and take a break from your regular routine. Also, when you’re traveling with the kids, look for a hotel that is reliable, kid-friendly and has all the amenities they need, like the Hilton Garden Inn. Between now and September 6th, with the HHonors ‘Great Getaway Promotion’ you get 20% off the Bed ‘N Breakfast rates plus get a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast for up to four adults staying in the same room. And kids 12 and under eat breakfast for free.”
Cruise vacations still available and they don’t have to make us fat
“Back in the day, cruise travelers came home with more than souvenirs – taking a cruise usually meant bringing home an extra 10 pounds,” said Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President and General Manger of CruiseOne, the nation’s leading cruise retailer. “Today’s travelers have asked for healthy and fun activities to choose from while onboard and the cruise lines have responded. The best part? Many of these offerings are included in the price of the cruise.”
Carnival Cruise Lines is having a “cash back” sale where they load up your on-board spending account with up to $150. They may not lower the price, in fact it may cost more to get this offer, but cash to spend on board a Carnival Cruise is always a welcome addition to any cruise vacation. Watch prices though, only certain price codes qualify. The promotion is available with virtually all of the line’s three- to nine-day cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico and Alaska departing between August and April from a variety of North American homeports. Terms Conditions
Some other sources to check
There are a number of online sources that specialize in last-minute travel and are worthy of a click or two.
LastMinuteTravel.com has portfolio of 16,000 plus Undercover hotels in 2,500 major cities
worldwide. By keeping the name of the hotel quiet until after one books, LastMinuteTravel.com is able to dramatically drop the rates across every hotel providing even better last minute prices, in advance.
FunJet Vacations lets us save up to 60% on last-minute packaged deals like a 3-night stay in Cozumel, Mexico with airfare starting at $399 per person. Packaged tours, once looked down on by seasoned travelers, are making a comeback as travel agencies are finding a new value-oriented market for their services.
Consumer Reports, the people who have no horse in the race for your travel dollars, offer ten great tips for saving on travel. My personal favorite:
“Average room rates have been falling in vacation spots such as Orlando, Fla., and the Caribbean. Bad news for hoteliers can be good news for you, so skip Web sites and toll-free lines and contact the property directly. Because many hotels are independently owned or managed, you might have more bargaining power. (Just don’t call in the morning, when guests are checking out.) Haggle for a lower room rate and ask for complimentary breakfast, gym access, or parking. Follow up by e-mail, so you have written confirmation.”
Who really does this? Have you? Share your experience with a comment below please. We would love to know how you did it for an upcoming post “Travel Mercenaries; get the best deal, take no hostages”
- Avoiding the Summertime Burglary Blues
- Reasons to Love Summer Workouts
- Five Fun Family Freebies for Priceless Summer Memories
- By the Numbers – June 2011: Summer Daze Edition
- 3 Ways to Reduce Summer Camp Expenses
Filed under: Asia, North America, United States, Hotels and Accommodations, Budget Travel, Internet Tools, Travel Deals, Cruises, Central America, Caribbean, Theme Parks
Travel in 3s highlights close-to-home-events, new attractions and special deals. To offer suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216-999-4240.
SEE YOU THIS SUMMER AT A FAIR
Looking for a better-than-fair, midsummer getaway? The end of July is the eginning of fair season in Ohio and surrounding states. Here’s where to find the region’s largest zucchinis, cheeses-on-a-stick, Tilt-a-Whirls and tractor pulls:
1. The Ohio State Fair kicks off Wednesday, July 27, in Columbus and runs through Sunday, Aug. 7. New this year: nightly fireworks and beer and wine sales. Headlining entertainers include Kesha on Thursday, July 28; Journey on Friday, Aug. 5; and Brad Paisley on Sunday, Aug. 7. For schedule and admission details: ohiostatefair.com.
2. Fairs in neighboring states include the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, Aug. 5-21 (in.gov/statefair); the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg, Aug. 12-20 (statefairofwv.com); and the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Aug. 18-28 (kystatefair.org). Michigan’s fair, you may recall, was canceled in 2009 because of state budget problems.
3. If you’re looking for a fair closer to home, there are plenty to choose from in the next month. Here’s a partial lineup (for the full list of Ohio county fairs: ohiofairs.org/listoffairs.html): Summit County in Tallmadge, July 26-31; Medina County in Medina, Aug. 1-7; Cuyahoga County in Berea, Aug. 8-14; Lake County in Painesville, Aug. 16-21; and Lorain County in Wellington, Aug. 22-28.
SPECIAL DEALS AND PACKAGES
1. In celebration of a recent renovation, the Omni Severin Hotel in Indianapolis is offering a Crossroads of America package that includes overnight accommodations, free meals for kids 12 and under, a backpack and cookies and milk turndown service. The package runs $179 a night and is available through August. For details: omnihotels.com/findahotel/indianapolisseverin.aspx.
2. Hueston Woods State Park Lodge near Cincinnati is offering a Park and Play Package, which includes overnight accommodations, 18 holes of golf for two and cart rental. The package, available through October, is $159 Sunday-Thursday. Details: huestonwoodsstateparklodge.com.
3. Sofitel hotels in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere are offering a “Chic Picnic” package that includes a fourth night free, plus a fully prepared gourmet picnic. Rates start at $165 per night at the Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square and $146 per night at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower. Details: sofitel.com.
EVENTS NOT TO MISS CLOSE TO HOME
1. Here’s a chance to share in the continuing sesquicentennial celebration of the Ohio Statehouse and to see members of the General Assembly in (a different kind of) action. They will team as the Capitol Cannons to play the Ohio Village Muffins in a game of base ball as it was played — and spelled — in the 19th century. The game is at 7 p.m. Friday on the west lawn (High Street) of the Statehouse in Columbus. Afterward, there will be a showing on the lawn of the Civil War movie, “Glory.” Both events are free. Go to ohiostatehouse.org.
2. If a menu of ribs and jazz appeals to you, head to (or stay in) Columbus next weekend for the Columbus Jazz Rib Fest. It will feature top regional and international artists along with rib burners from several states and Canada. The festivities take place in the Arena District along Spring and Long streets, and on McFerson Commons and in North Bank Park. Hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24. Admission is free. For details, go to hotribscooljazz.org or call 614-645-3800.
3. If you’ve never been to Kelleys Island, next weekend’s Islandfest would be a good time to head over and get acquainted. If you have visited, it’s a good time to go again. The festival begins at 4 p.m. Friday, continues Saturday with a car “cruize,” parade and fireworks; and concludes at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 24. Food, entertainment, a craft fair, rides and games will be offered throughout. Go to kelleysislandchamber.com or call 419-746-2360.
National Ice Cream Month sounds like a made-up holiday, and it was — by President Reagan. One can only imagine the political pressure he faced from underage voters in 1984 when he proclaimed July the time to celebrate vanilla and rocky road.
He also designated the third Sunday of July (which turns out to be this Sunday) as National Ice Cream Day. Which leaves me with one reaction: Sweeeeet! Here are places that take the holidays seriously.
— Splendiferously Superiffic Summer Spectacular Ice Cream Eating Challenge, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, 799 the Shops at Mission Viejo in Mission Viejo; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Contestants earlier had to qualify to enter this ice cream eating competition, but you can still go and watch the lick-offs — and enjoy some yourself. Proceeds go to charity.
— Loews Hotels is offering guests free Fudgsicles, ice cream sandwiches and other treats this month. You get to choose a cool freebie each day of your stay between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. from a cart in the lobby.
–Omni Hotels Resorts, including the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza in downtown L.A., plans ice cream socials for guests nationwide, with a design-your-own-sundae bar from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
– Carvel soft-serve ice cream shops will give kids a free cup or cone with an adult purchase Sunday. I think of this company as mostly East Coast, but it also has Southern California stores, including one at 421 Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. And who knew? Carvel has four locations in Saudi Arabia: Jeddah, Tabuk, Riyadh and Khobar.
— New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival, Washington Street, Toms River, N.J.; 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. This one-day fest features four ice cream eating contests: two for children, two for adults. Ice cream makers are mostly local, which means you’ll get to sample regional favorites. Admission is free, but you pay $7 for tasting kits.
Here’s a tip from L.A. Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm on the best ice cream in Philadelphia.
So what did I miss? Where’s your favorite ice cream place?
WASHINGTON – Five dollars for a pillow, $10 to jump ahead in the boarding line — all those annoying airline fees can add up.
Now the Department of Transportation is proposing that airlines tell it — and the public — exactly how much they’re making on those fees. And, rule proposed Friday by the department would require airlines to break down those fees by the type of item or service purchased, from pillows and blankets to entertainment and snacks.
Making airlines report more information about the amount and types of fees will make the total cost of flights more clear, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
“In an era of rising fees, passengers deserve better information about how airlines are performing,” he said in a statement.
The proposed rule would also require airlines report more useful statistics about lost or damaged luggage and mishandled wheelchairs.
Airlines received $3.4 billion from baggage fees and $2.3 billion from reservation change fees in 2010. There is no federal excise tax on those fees, although they are counted when calculating income taxes.
Revenue from seating assignments and on-board sales of food, drinks, pillows, blankets, and entertainment also isn’t subject to excise taxes. Until now, airlines haven’t been required to report revenue from those items separately to the government.
Taxes on airline tickets go toward subsidizing airports and the national’s air traffic control system. There has been some grumbling in Congress that ancillary fees have enabled airlines to hold down their fares and the taxes they pay to support air transportation.
Steve Lott, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents major airlines, said the association is reviewing the proposal.
“We support transparency, and believe customers should always know what products and services they are paying for,” Lott said.
“We also believe the airline industry, vital to our economy as a creator of jobs and mover of people and goods, needs to be treated like other global businesses and free from unnecessary regulatory burdens that add complexity and cost without delivering value,” he said.
Under the proposal, airlines would be required to report 16 additional categories of fees in addition to baggage and reservation change fees, the department said.
In April, the department proposed a series of consumer protection regulations, including a requirement that airlines prominently disclose all potential fees on their websites. Airlines will also have to include taxes and government-imposed fees in the fares that they advertise.
Airlines have opposed the tax and fee disclosure requirements, arguing that car dealers and other businesses don’t have to make similar disclosures.
The disclosure requirements are due to go into effect next month, but three domestic airline trade groups have asked the department to delay the rule for six months so that airlines can train employees and update computer systems to comply with the changes.
Also, low-cost carrier Spirit and regional carrier Allegiant Air have asked a federal court to block the new disclosure requirements, as well as several other consumer protections proposed in April. Southwest Airlines, which carries more passengers than any other domestic airline, has asked the court to block the government from requiring airlines to disclose taxes and government-required fees in their airfares. Southwest, which doesn’t charge any ancillary fees, said including government required taxes and fees would force the airline to make complicated adjustments to its frequent flyer rewards program, which is based on airfares.
The proposal announced Friday would also require airlines to report the total number of bags checked. Airlines already report the number of mishandled bags relative to the number of passengers flown. However, more passengers are choosing not to check bags to avoid fees, decreasing the number of checked bags overall.
Reporting all checked bags would allow passengers to compare the number of lost or damaged bags relative to the number of bags handled by the airlines, which is a more useful comparison, the department said.
In 2010, carriers reported a mishandled baggage rate of 3.57 per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over 2009′s rate of 3.99.
The department said it is asking airlines to report mishandled wheelchairs in response to complaints from passengers who say they are reluctant to travel by air because they fear their wheelchairs or scooters will be delayed or the equipment may arrive damaged. The new information will enable passengers to determine which airlines have better records of handling wheelchairs.
Department of Transportation www.dot.gov
Air Transport Association www.airlines.org
SAN FRANCISCO, July 14, 2011 — /PRNewswire/ — Travel Ticker®, a leading inspirational travel website, today announced the appointment of L. Jasmine Kim as the new General Manager of the site. Kim brings over a decade of experience in online business development and management to Travel Ticker. In her new role, Kim is responsible for overseeing Travel Ticker’s brand development, marketing programs, subscriber and traffic acquisition, as well as the Travel Ticker product, which delivers handpicked deals to motivated travelers.
“It’s a pleasure to join such a talented team of travel professionals during such an exciting time,” said Kim. “The online travel deal industry is a dynamic space to be in right now, and the Travel Ticker brand is uniquely positioned to drive innovative solutions to bridge the gap between outstanding deals and savvy travelers. Our value for both customers and business partners will continue to grow as we increase our focus on product development and user experience.”
Prior to joining Travel Ticker, Kim held a number of leadership positions including Senior Vice President and General Manager of the leading parenting site BabyCenter.com, CEO of health and nutrition information site ShopWell.com and Vice President of International Marketing and Sales Development at Yahoo!, where she successfully launched 24 global websites. As a seasoned marketing and management professional who has visited 46 countries (17 with her children), Kim understands the importance of experiencing different parts of the world and makes delivering handpicked, insider deals to travelers her first priority.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Originators of a proposed biblical theme park that would include a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark had considered sites in Indiana, Missouri and Ohio but ultimately chose to build in Kentucky because of the state’s generous package of tax incentives, one of the developers said.
Mike Zovath, co-founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry that previously built the Creation Museum in Kentucky, told The Associated Press that the state’s offer of tax incentives worth more than $40 million was too good for the newly created Ark Encounters LLC to pass up.
“We weren’t sure where we going to build until the state of Kentucky approved the incentives,” Zovath said. “Until then, it was still up in the air.”
The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved the incentives in May for the $172 million project that’s otherwise being financed by a group of unidentified private investors.
“That incentive package was by far the most enticing of any anywhere east of the Mississippi,” Zovath said.
Zovath said developers had hoped to build reasonably near the Creation Museum just south of Cincinnati because they believed the two sites would be mutually beneficial in drawing tourists.
The biblical theme park would include a replica of the Tower of Babel, a first-century village, theaters, lecture halls, retail shops, restaurants, a petting zoo, and live animal shows featuring giraffes and elephants.
Gov. Steve Beshear said he’s pleased the developers chose Kentucky because of the hundreds of jobs the theme park would bring to the state.
“I knew that they were looking at several locations at that time, but they sat down and talked to our tourism people and learned what all Kentucky could do. I felt like we were very competitive,” he said.
Rob Hunden, a consultant who reviewed the proposal for the Tourism Development and Finance Authority, said the project is expected to draw nearly 1.4 million visitors a year.
The theme park is projected to create 600 to 700 full-time jobs and have an economic impact of more than $250 million in its first year of operation.
Providing government tax incentives for a project with a religious theme had drawn opposition on grounds of church-state separation.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State executive director Barry W. Lynn criticized Kentucky’s decision, saying the state “should not be promoting the spread of fundamentalist Christianity or any other religious viewpoint.”
With environmental and archaeological reviews nearing completion, groundbreaking has been tentatively scheduled for next month.
“We’re moving along at a good pace,” Zovath said. “We haven’t run into any obstacles with the site.”
MINNEAPOLIS – Delta Air Lines is shrinking its flying to small cities in the nation’s midsection, saying it can’t make money on flights that are sometimes completely empty.
On Friday, Delta said it would adjust flying in 24 cities, many of which are not served by any other airline. There’s a risk they could lose air service altogether, although some of the routes are likely to be taken over by regional airlines. And Delta said it will ask for a federal subsidy to keep some of the flights.
The affected flights connect Delta’s hubs to small cities in rural Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Most of the affected flights are on Delta’s 34-seat Saab turboprops, which it is phasing out by the end of this year. Higher fuel prices have made it difficult to operate small planes profitably, because the fuel bill is divided among a small number of passengers. Even the next-larger option, the 50-seat regional jets flown by Delta and other airlines, is often unprofitable for the same reason. Delta is retiring many of those planes, too.
Delta said it is losing $14 million a year on the flights included in Friday’s announcement. Their occupancy averaged just 52 percent, compared to a system-wide average of 83 percent last year. The average occupancy out of Thief River Falls, Minn., was just 12 percent, Delta said. The flight from Greenville, Miss., runs just 27.6 percent full. Some flights have been completely empty, it said.
Flights in 16 of the cities on Delta’s list are subsidized by the federal Extended Air Service program. The Transportation Department solicits bids from airlines to see how much money it would take to get them to serve a particular city. Delta said it is looking for regional haulers, including Great Lakes Aviation, to take over those routes.
Great Lakes operates 19-seat planes, a size that might operate profitably where a larger plane couldn’t. A Great Lakes spokeswoman declined to comment on the possibility of taking over the Delta routes.
The Transportation Department can make an airline keep serving a city even after its subsidy contract runs out, spokesman Bill Mosley said.
It’s theoretically possible that no airlines would bid to serve a city. “It’s very rare,” Mosely said. “We would rebid if that were the case.”
The city of Bemidji in northwestern Minnesota doesn’t currently get a subsidy, but Delta says it wants one to keep flying there. Right now one of Delta’s regional feeder partners operates three 50-seat regional jets per day between Bemidji and Delta’s hub in Minneapolis, a 4 1/2 hour drive away.
Bemidji illustrates why airlines have historically sought out travelers in small cities. Such flights attract more than their share of business travelers, who tend to pay more. And if their flight starts on Delta, they’ll generally stick with Delta all the way to Chicago or New York.
“So they’re paying for a bigger ticket somewhere else,” said Harold M. Van Leeuwen Jr., the manager of the Bemidji airport. “Bemidji has been a good location for them.”
Occupancy on the Bemidji flights was 59 percent last year. Van Leeuwen said he expects that either Delta or some other airline will continue to serve the city.
Also on Friday, House Transportation Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., added a provision to a must-pass bill to keep the Federal Aviation Administration in business that includes eliminating subsidized air service to 13 small cities.
The bill would end subsidies for 10 cities that are 90 miles or less from a medium or large hub airport: Athens, Ga.; Morgantown, W.V.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Bradford, Pa.; Hagerstown, Md.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Johnstown, Pa.; Franklin-Oil City, Pa.; Lancaster, Pa. and Jackson, Tenn.
It also caps subsidies at $1,000 per passenger, effectively eliminating three more cities: Ely, Nev. ($3,720 per passenger), Alamogordo-Holloman AFB, N.M., ($1,563), and Glendive, Mont. ($1,358).
Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.
CONCORD, N.H. – New Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development is looking at ways to improve the state’s welcome centers, such as adding computers and having staffers go through a hospitality training program to better assist tourists.
The budget has allowed the creation of a Bureau of Visitor Services with a staff of four employees to help improve tourism opportunities in the state.
The division is part of the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development. The state budget that took effect July 1 transfers management of the welcome centers to the agency from the Department of Transportation.
Under the budget, several centers that are open for part of the year will be closed to cut costs. They are in Antrim, Rumney and Epsom. That’s fewer than originally proposed in Gov. John Lynch’s budget.
The other centers originally on the list for closure — Colebrook, Lebanon, Littleton, Sanbornton and Shelburne — are remaining open.
The rest of the state’s visitor centers are in Canterbury, Hooksett, Nashua, North Conway, Salem, Seabrook, Springfield and Sutton.
Lori Harnois, director of the Division of Travel and Tourism Development said Friday that the state is hoping to form public-private partnerships within the tourism industry for the long-term operation of all the welcome centers.
In the meantime, “we’re currently trying to get a good handle on the daily operations of them,” she said. “Future goals are to enhance the visitor’s experience. It’s the first interaction the visitor has with New Hampshire.”
Tourism is one of the state’s largest industries, bringing in $4 billion in direct spending by visitors and $132.2 million in meals and room taxes. It supports about 60,500 jobs.
JetBlue Airways is doing its part to help out commuters during this weekend’s so-called Carmageddon.
With the 405 Freeway set to be closed from late Friday until early Monday because of construction, the airline said it would offer $4 fares each way from Long Beach Airport to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
“Fly JetBlue between Burbank and Long Beach this Saturday (7/16) only!” the airline’s website says. “Fares are $4 each way so get on board quick — book now through July 16 or while supplies last. Or for $5 each way customers can also enjoy an Even More Space seat on their Carmageddon Fly-over, which includes early boarding and early access to overhead bin space as well as a spacious seat with extra legroom — limited quantity available on each flight.”
“This will be our shortest commercial flight,” JetBlue spokewoman Sharon Jones told The Times. “We thought this would be a fun and unique idea. We looked at it as a way to introduce our product to customers who have never joined JetBlue.”
[Updated at 3:05 p.m.: JetBlue is encouraging people trying to book flights to make their reservations by phone. The website is experiencing technical difficulties.]
JetBlue is offering two fights from Long Beach to Burbank and two from Burbank to Long Beach — both on Saturday.
The flights will take 20 minutes.
– Rong-Gong Lin II
Drug cartel members may be planning attacks at the U.S. border with Mexico and on U.S. Consulate offices in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, in retaliation for the arrest this week of an accused drug-cartel leader, the consulate warned Friday.
In an emergency message, the consulate Friday advised American citizens to “remain vigilant.” It said:
“Information has come to light that suggests a cartel may be targeting the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez or U.S. Ports of Entry. In the past, cartels have been willing to utilize car bombs in attacks. ”
It also said it had received information that cartel members may be planning to attack rival gangs, Mexican police or the public in general.
The warning comes after Mexican authorities on Wednesday arrested Marco Antonio Guzman, who was accused of leading the armed wing of the Juarez drug cartel in northern Mexico, the Associated Press reported. It said that Guzman was suspected of involvement in the car bombing of a police station in Ciudad Juarez last year.
In violence that erupted this week in the city, 21 people were killed in 24 hours, the El Paso Times reported.
The U.S. State Department in an April 22 travel warning said Ciudad Juarez has the highest murder rate in Mexico, noting that more than 3,100 people were killed in 2010. And though it advised Americans against traveling to the area, the warning also said there was no evidence that American tourists have been targeted in the ongoing drug violence.