In previous articles, we discussed the creation of a “Vacation Dream Calendar” and the importance of scheduling your holiday travel now. If you missed either of those, then you can read them here.
If you have followed my counsel and created your calendar and scheduled your holiday season travel, then CONGRATULATIONS! I am so proud of you. Now let’s discuss Spring Break travel which is of course, all about spring breakers.
In a previous article, we discussed the creation of a “vacation dream calendar”. If you missed part one of this series, you can read it here.
I thought now would a good time to discuss MAJOR holiday travel planning. If this applies to you, then you’re in luck! If not, go ahead and pass it along to that friend who every October bemoans the “airline tickets for Christmas are so expensive”.
Scheduling for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years can be tricky, because it oftentimes involves extended family members who aren’t as prepared as you are! Be that as it may, do your best to book these travel plans as early as possible to potentially save yourself a lot of money and headache at a very stressful time of year.
AirlineRatings.com just released its top 20 safest airlines in the world for 2020. I’ve decided to highlight the top ten because, let's face it...your time is valuable.
Incidentally, according to their site, Airlineratings.com delivers expert safety ratings for more than 435 airlines around the world. 230 of the airlines featured on their site carry 99 percent of the world’s passengers. And in case you were wondering, according to a quick google search, there are about 5,000–5,500 airlines in the world, as this is the number ICAO/IATA airline codes in current circulation. In terms of commercial airlines, there are between 770 and 800 commercial airlines globally operating scheduled flights (that are officially recognized). You can read more about how their scoring and rating criteria which generated this list with the link below.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to plan, you’re planning to fail”; and I couldn’t agree more. It’s January, we’ve recovered from the holidays and it’s time to take a look at the calendar to decide what vacations you’re going to take this year. I am all for spontaneous getaways, but for most of us, the calendar is a factor in our trip planning. So I say, create a “Dream Vacation Calendar” for the year. Why do this? Because the sooner you book, the greater the likelihood you’ll get a better deal on price. For instance, “wave season” in the cruise industry starts January 1 and runs through the end of March. This is the period of time when A LOT of cabins get booked for the year. I suggest using a printed calendar so its a visual you can look at day-to-day for motivation! So let’s get planning!
2019 was a banner year for us here at Erik the Travel Guy and Beyond Your Backyard and 2020 is going to be even better. I can share a few details about the next 12 months, but before I do, I’d like to share a quick thought about 2019.
The only wrong way to book a hotel room is to be uninformed.
When it comes to lodging options on your vacation, you have choices galore. Booking the best cheap hotel room? That depends on your definition of cheap. I am a big fan of using the word “value” for your vacation dollar spend. In other words, are you GETTING what you’re paying for? Which brings me to a few ideas/questions to consider before you book any hotel room for your next vacation.
My only assumption is you (the person/people) can’t afford to get it wrong. In my opinion, lodging should enhance or be commensurate with the rest of your other vacation elements. The same can be said for your car rental, airline trip and itinerary, etc.
2020 is upon us and once again, I’m writing with a nod to caution in my relentless pursuit to inspire you to travel.
Did you read the story about the screen actress and her family in Lake Tahoe and their Air B&B (or AirBnB)? She and her extended family were literally sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at their Air B&B house rental when members of her family (including children) started to feel ill. They assumed it was standard travel malaise when the symptoms worsened. It turns out it was Carbon Monoxide. That’s right...their rental was quickly filling with deadly fumes with no warning from Carbon Monoxide detectors installed in the home. It was later learned that all of these detectors were not functioning. Because of the fast-acting group and first responders, nobody was seriously injured. But certainly a close call.
This is yet another reason why I am not a huge fan of any lodging accommodation other than reliable, hotel/motel brands. Of course, this is an isolated incident and it could have happened anywhere in any lodging option. And for experienced Air B&Ber’s, you most likely already have your “pre-check-in” list of items to attend to. But for me, I honestly do not want to have to wonder whether or not the homeowner checked the smoke detectors.
While I completely understand Air B&B’s (and others) value proposition to consumers, this is yet another reason why I do not feel confident supporting the idea of staying or sharing someone else’s home on your vacation. Again, I’m not a gloom and doom guy but please consider the following before booking outside of a trusted accommodation option:
Read Anna’s full story here
Read Air B&B’s latest safety article here
Happy (and safe) Travels in 2020!
It's time to take a look at your driver's license and see if it is compliant for travel within the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress back in 2005. This means, if you are a US citizen over the age of 18 and are flying domestically (within the US) then you will need to present a compliant, valid ID. If that is your driver's license, then it must comply. You'll know because it, generally speaking, will have a star at the top of the license.
You can read the official release from the Department of Homeland Security here.
The deadline to comply is October 1, 2020 so check with your state's DMV to acquire a new ID. You will not be able to pass through security checkpoints at airports without this enhanced driver's license or other acceptable forms of ID.
The TSA has a little helpful "Real ID" information which can be found here.
You can use a valid US passport for domestic travel but why risk losing it for quick trip to Chicago? I say, do a little home-state sleuthing and get yourself down to the DMV.
So, you have the travel bug and your significant other doesn’t? Or, maybe it’s you that simply just doesn’t see the value? In either case, I can help. Travel is aspirational, it’s a “want” and not a “need” in the eyes of most. It’s often hard to clearly define the benefits of travel because, well, travel is personal. And what I mean is, travel means different things to different people, therefore the pros and cons are all over the map, so to speak. Nevertheless, I will do my best to shed a little light on the subject.
Let’s start with the facts. According to Forbes, the travel industry worldwide is a $7.6 trillion industry. It directly and indirectly employs millions of people. It’s a true economic force not to be reckoned with. Think about, the airlines, travel agents, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, local shops, restaurants, bars, theme parks, and national parks- they are just a cross section of industries whom all rely on a financial transaction that has something to do with travel. Let’s not forget about the auto industry, apparel, luggage, and tech companies- if you look around, you’ll start to see, travel isn’t a BIG it’s a HUGE business. So, by participating, you are fueling economies, paying for goods and services, or maybe helping to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier. Think of the housekeeper you tipped $5 for taking care of your room for two nights, or the server who went out of their way to serve you an excellent meal- so you throw them $20 as opposed to the standard 20 percent.
How about time off? According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off initiative, the average American leaves eight paid vacation days on the tabe each year. Unacceptable. Really? It’s a benefit of your employment. Because employers figured out long ago they want happy, motivated workers. They are literally paying you to be away from the office and, for the most part, were opting to stay at our desks working ourselves to death.
Speaking of health, more and more research emerges consistently about the health benefits of travel. Sure it might be a little counterintuitive because travel can be stressful, but the the big picture is, travel is usually good for the mind, body and dare I say soul. Have a look at the latest research conducted by Timo Strandberg of University of Helsinki, and learn all about lowering your blood pressure while away. More benefits include getting a little more Vitamin D from the sun, getting a little more exercise by exploring or swimming in the ocean, or even having better sex! It’s not my opinion, it’s science, folks.
Not getting along with your mate as well as you’d like to? Well, travel is an excellent way to share an experience with the one you love. Laughing a lot, trying new thing, and falling asleep in each other's arms again can all be part of the travel fun!
The New Year celebrations have long since ended and perhaps you made a resolution to learn something new. Or learn a new language or become more culturally well-rounded? Hello? TRAVEL!
Okay, now comes the uncomfortable part. How do you pay for this life-changing vacation? That’s up to you. But the word TRAVEL begs a little personal definition. I used to define “vacation” as a far off place, that's expensive, and that requires a tremendous amount of planning and financial resources. Those trips do exist. But after traveling for a living for more than a decade, I now completely understand the true meaning of the word. Travel is defined by YOU! An extended weekend away without the kids? Travel. A short cruise to the Caribbean? Travel. Getting in the car and rediscovering your neighboring town? Travel. Camping by the river or in your own backyard? Travel. Forget about keeping up with others. Don’t just do what everybody else does, do what YOU want to do. Go where you want to go and be with the people you want to be with. Nobody really cares and if you have people in your life that you feel are judging you based on your travel plans….get rid of them! You see, you DEFINE what travel travel means to you and yours. Travel doesn't have to be expensive. How about missionary work? Voluntouring? The possibilities are seemingly endless because travel’s such a huge business.
Hopefully, I’ve peeled back the onion layers here to help you get a clearer picture of the big world out there just waiting for you to explore. Now, all you have to do is... do it. Good luck and keep me posted on your plans- before, during, or after you return from your next great adventure.
Two of the giants in the air American Airlines and Delta Airlines have plenty to offer travelers, but have you stopped to think and compare them? There are more factors to consider than flight prices and the convenience of direct flights (nonstops) offered. Let’s put the numbers, flight amenities, alliances, sheer number of destinations and actual number of planes side by side for a closer analysis of two of the most dominant airlines.
American Airlines is the world’s largest airline with headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas and boasts flights to 350 destinations. This doesn’t include their regional airline American Eagle and its seven individual airlines, with flights to 242 destinations. Compare that to Delta Airlines, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and flights to 241 destinations, 328 if you include their regional carrier Delta Connection.
Both airlines have loyalty programs that offer frequent passengers a number of perks. Not only can American Airlines’ AAdvantage members earn miles, they can also take advantage of upgrades, no blackout dates, the ability to buy gifts or share miles, and have access to the Oneworld Alliance (American has alliances with 23 airlines). On the contrary, over at Delta, their SkyMiles loyalty program offers miles that never expire, rewards at every level, no cap on miles earned, and the ability to earn miles with their 20-plus partner airlines.
American leads when it comes to the number of aircrafts with 965 while Delta has 764. With regards to baggage fees, both offer the first carry on for free. The second bag will cost you $30 domestically and $60 internationally with American, while Delta charges $30 for the second bag under 50 pounds.
Here’s the lowdown on onboard experiences, meaning entertainment, food, and classes of service:
American has seven classes of service and they include...
Delta has seven classes of service and they include...
That’s a rundown of comparisons between the two giants to help you make an informed decision according to your travel plans and needs. Next time you book a flight, know what’s available then take off on your next adventure. Bon Voyage!
P.S. Explore how to pick the best airline mile programs with yours truly!
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!