Top 10 Places to Travel to Stretch Your Dollar

Traveling doesn’t have to cost too much. With a strong cash, exotic locales will offer lots of bang for your buck and an off the controlled way experience. With more inexpensive flights available than before, you can jet off anywhere exotic and still stay with a small spending budget. Whether you want a long journey summer vacation or a short Easter holiday, below are 10 places you will get the most value for your travel buck.

Los Cabos
With affordable flights from the United States, this common vacation destination gives plenty of great deals. Sunny Beach basically does what it states on the label, a seaside hotel made for comforting and perfecting your tan without wasting much a day. There are plenty of all-inclusive so you don’t have to worry about spending any money there unless you want to go on any excursions. All-inclusive are the best way to go.

Budapest sits in all its Neo-Classical and Gothic glory on the Danube River, perfectly considered one of the best cities around the world. With its ancient castles, warm and leafy parks, peppery goulash, it is easy to love.

Goa, India
While many people would not think to travel here. Common with many travellers and backpackers on a budget, it is easy to explore this colorful region and live like a Raj. Visit Goa and look for great deals in the flea marketplace, swim with turtles and enjoy the shine Guesthouse for affordable private rooms and a ten minute ride to Anjuna Beach.

Montego Bay, Jamaica
There are many hotels and places to do here. Beautiful beaches, amazing food and fun what else could you ask for when wanting a luxury vacation. This is where I decided to spend my summer this year and let me tell you how amazing it was. Crystal blue waters, dance parties on the beach, flow of drinks, exquisite resorts, and the list could go on and on. While you’re there take a stop at Jimmy Buffets Magaritaville and go down the water slide that shoots you into the ocean.

The price for staying in Cambodia is very low, but it is also home to the seven Wonders around the world. You can get a bicycle for as low as $2 a day and ride to this amazing temple for the 4am sunrise.

Trying to find a city vacation with a budget twist? Riga, Latvia, is becoming a preferred vacation due to an old town as lovely as Prague, with pastel shaded buildings out of an Eastern European fairytale.

Bali, Indonesia
With the British pound rising against the Indonesian rupiah, Bali Indonesia is a good value long haul choice. It is one of Indonesia’s beautiful islands, full of glittering historic temples, volcanoes and a surfer’s area around the sugary beaches.

George Town, Malaysia
For people who like to try new food but are on a tight budget, George Town, Malaysia is the place to visit. The food is a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian specialties, and local hawker stores and street-food stalls provide lots of delicious means of just $2 to 3.

Xi’an, China
If you are excited about history, culture and nourishing but cheap food, Xi’an, China must be on your list. While places like Beijing and Shanghai are becoming expensive to match their cosmopolitan level, Xi’an remains budget-friendly.

Malaysia gives lots of value for your buck. There are many activities and attractions for the entire family like water parks, LEGOLAND, warm beaches, indoor theme parks and ethnic icons like Batu Caves. English is generally spoken, local foods are delicious and cheap, and the weather is warm and comfy all through the year.

Author Bio:
Sarah Cooley is a young writer who loves to experience life and travel. She enjoys writing about her experiences, and though she may be young, she has experienced much. Her dream is to travel every continent and write about her adventures.

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Seven Wonders of the Ancient WorldAwesome is the best word to describe the seven wonders of the ancient world. People today can only marvel at what ancient builders were able to create with primitive equipment and engineering techniques; pyramids, lighthouses, huge statues…

Great Pyramid at Giza
The Great Pyramid brings to mind visions of Cleopatra and the pharaohs. Indeed, the 480-foot tall pyramid is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, whose subjects considered him a living god. This primarily limestone pyramid was built around 2560 BC and for centuries was the world’s tallest building. Women may enjoy shopping for a cartouche ring or pendant as they are said to bring good luck to the wearer.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was built like a fortress, but also was an amazing tourist attraction in its day. The wall was wide enough to allow two four-horse chariots to drive on it at the same time but scenic enough with its gold statues and the Tower of Babel rising above. The gardens, which were located in present day Iraq, were destroyed by an earthquake in the second century BC. Recall the aromas of Iraq by taking home a mabhara and some incense.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Greece has been hosting the Olympic Games since 773 BC, drawing athletes from throughout the region. A shrine to Zeus, king of the Greek gods, was part of the games’ site. The shrine started out simple but soon grew to encompass a 40-plus-foot high ivory- and gold-plated statue of Zeus, created by the sculptor of the statue of Athena in the Parthenon. Key chains featuring the five rings of the modern Olympic Games will bring back memories of visiting this ancient site.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The temple of Artemis, also known as Diana, the goddess of fertility, was only around for a few centuries. Still, travelers who had visited other wonders of the ancient world described it as the most magnificent of them all. The original temple was built around 800 BC; a replacement temple was destroyed by fire nearly 500 years later by a man who wanted to make history. Since Diana was the goddess of fertility, baby clothes from here would make a good gift for a pregnant woman.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Mausolus was a king of Halicarnassus who incorporated Greek culture and architecture into his kingdom in what is now Turkey. When he died in 353 BC, his queen, who was also his wife and sister, decided to build the most magnificent tomb to honor him. In a nutshell, this is how tombs became known as mausoleums. Turkish carpets would make a great souvenir, though carpet cleaning may be needed back home.

Colossus of Rhodes
Trivia buffs may be interested in knowing the Colossus of Rhodes served as the model for New York City’s Statue of Liberty. The original Colossus stood in the harbor at Rhodes. Build around 280 BC to celebrate a war victory, the 110-foot high statue was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. When it comes to buying souvenirs, Rhodes is famous for its jewelry and pottery.

Lighthouse at Alexandria
The lighthouse at Alexandria was considered one of the most technologically advanced structures when it was built in the Third Century BC. Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was a great port city for its day and needed something to guide ships through the busy harbor. It was the first lighthouse in the world. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1303. Packets of papyrus paper will be a surefire hit with travelers who make their own greeting cards or want special stationery.

These wonders left behind a great legacy, remnants of a glorious past. It is unfortunate that today only the Great Pyramid at Giza remains standing. This means today’s citizens must use their imaginations to visualize the greatness of centuries ago.

Author bio: Jennifer Livingston is a freelance writer who specializes on topics related to health, fitness and family. When she is not writing she likes to bake, read and travel.

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Get Discounts on Business Class Flights to Bangkok

Get Discounts on Business Class Flights to BangkokBangkok, the capital and the most populous city in Thailand, also known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, is not only a visitors’ paradise, but also renowned to be the centre for the investment boom of Asia in the 1980’s and 1990’s. As such, many multinational houses have located their regional headquarters to Bangkok making it a very important regional force in finance and business. Thus, there is always a never ending search in the reputed search engines for first class flight deals and for discounted business class tickets to Bangkok. It has become one of the most visited tourist spots – not only in Asia, but also around the world.

A very important question, from a tourist’s point of view, might be what to expect when planning a visit to Bangkok. Basically, a visit to Bangkok will be colorfully crowded, exciting, and full of ambience with an abundance of modern shopping malls. Apart from that, with a bit of time in hand, it also serves as a gateway to other important tourist spots like Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, to mention only a few.

Some tourist attractions in Bangkok can never be ignored. A few are listed below:
1. Grand Palace: If one needs to select one historical tourist spot in Bangkok, this must be it. Built in 1782, the name itself suggests the grandeur of the place as it has enough ammunitions to put the modern monarchs to shame.
2. Wat Pho: Thailand’s first University and treated as the home of pharmacy centuries ago, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, as it is known in the contemporary times, is located immediately to the south of the Grand Palace. Here, one of the biggest statues of Lord Buddha can be found.
3. Wat Traimit, Temple of the Golden Buddha: The East Asiatic society purchased the land around the temple in 1950 with the removal of a plaster statue of Lord Buddha being one of the conditions of the sale. But the statue proved too heavy for the cranes to lift it, and finally the cable broke, dropping the statue. After an overnight rain it was found out that the statue was actually made of 5.5 tons of pure gold and its height was to be 3.5 meters.
4. Wat Suthat: Situated adjacent to the great swing, this is one of the oldest and the most beautiful Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It is famous for its exceptionally interesting wall paintings.
These are only a few places out of many that make Bangkok a famous destination in the world.

If you are planning a trip to Bangkok you can consult the Skylux Business Experts’ first class flight deals for interesting offers regarding discounted business class airfare and start packing for one of the most memorable trips of your life.

Author Bio: This content has been developed by Alex Brain to provide an overview of Bangkok as a travel destination and helping people out with the interesting deals offered in

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5 Top EDM Festivals You Must Attend

5 Top EDM Festivals You Must Attend EDM festivals take place in some of the best cities in the world. If you haven’t planned to visit some of these EDM cities this year, it’s time to contact your travel advisor to make your bookings. Your travel agent may also recommend you visit, and their guide on EDM festivals.

Below are five of the best EDM festivals that you should plan to attend:

1. COACHELLA, California, USA, April
Paul Tollete founded Coachella festival in 1999 and it has grown to be one of the most popular and most profitable festivals in the USA. In 2014, 579,000 fans attended the 6-day festival.

The festival gets its name from its host destination, the Coachella Valley, which is a desert in California. Though EDM is played at the festival, you will also get to experience other genres such as rock, hip hop and indie music.

2. EXIT Festival, Serbia, July
During the 2014 EU festival awards, the exit festival officially received the title of the best major festival in Europe. It beat 360 festivals from 34 countries, including Tomorrowland, which has been famous for the longest time as the holy grail of electronic music.

The venue for Exit, the Petrovaradin Fortress, is one to behold. It is located on the Danube River, and overlooks the city of Novi Sad.

Exit takes place over 5 days, starting on the 2nd Thursday in July and has an estimated attendance of at least 200,000 people.

3. Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), Netherlands, October
amsterdam-dance-festivalADE started in 1996, and takes place every year in mid-October. The festival features 2200 artists performing in 450 venues all over Amsterdam.

Attendance for ADE is 350,000 every year, making it one of the most highly attended EDM festivals in the world. DJs such as Armin van Buuren, David Guetta and Paul Van Dyk have featured performances at ADE.

4. KAZANTIP, Georgia, August
Kazantip EDM festival launched in 1992 and takes place for 2 to 3 weeks in August. This is perhaps the longest EDM festival to be held anywhere in the world. Kazantip is held in an open air 15 acre piece of land, where 300 DJs play on 14 stages.

The festival is themed to mimic a republic (called republic Z), complete with a president (spelled preZident) and military guards. There are many sculptures on the grounds to go with this theme. Attendants are called ‘paradiZers’ and they need a visa (spelled viZa) to enter into the republic.

The venue for the festival has moved from Crimea to Georgia due to the instability in Crimea, so it is quite safe to attend.

At least 100,000 paradiZers attend each year. You should attend this party and be a part of this amazing republic. Make sure you prepare for a good time by reading’s guide on rock concerts.

5. Stereosonic, Australia, November and December
The first Stereosonic festival took place in 2007. This event is indeed so popular that in 2013, it attracted the attention of SFX entertainment, an EDM giant from the US, to purchase the company that organizes the festival.

Stereosonic takes place in November and December in five Australian cities. The event has received major awards since its inauguration, such as the 2013 award for Best Major Festival, awarded by In the Mix.

In 2012, the attendance for the festival, which took place in Perth, was at over an estimated 30,000. Each year, the lineup of performers keeps growing, and it will keep growing as the demand for the festival continues to increase.

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A Hundred Years of Cruising

The Titanic being chased by the Allure of the Seas

Like Jonah and the Whale the Allure is ready to swallow the Titanic

Cruising became quite popular around the turn of the 19th century, even though it had been a favorite for nobility and royalty since the 1830s, when nobles, authorities, and royal princes from all over Europe sailed in just over three months the Mediterranean islands, coastlines and famous cities on a ship called the Francisco I, which flew the flag of the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. Most ships that operated passenger transportation in those days were called ocean liners. Constructed as ocean liners, they did not meet the requirements of the pleasure-seeking market and offered few amenities aboard.

The first cruise ship built exclusively for the purpose of vacationing on a ship was the Prinzessin Victoria Louise in Hamburg Germany, even though she did quite a few Atlantic immigration crossings in the short 6 years of her existence. In the early days of huge immigration to the US, many shipping companies build transatlantic ocean liners as was the luxurious ‘Titanic’.

The following comparison shows that numbers between the Titanic, the largest ocean liner in 1912 and The Allue of the Seas’, the largest cruise ship in the world today are in most areas such as length, height and speed not that dramatically different. What makes the huge difference however is the width, creating a 5 to 1 gross tonnage difference, which is why on the picture it looks like the Titanic is going to be swallowed by the Allure.

Here are some more numbers and a picture show off the enormous amount of food is prepared in 18 kitchens on the allure.

The Titanic, the world’s largest cruiseship in 1912 had the following specs:

Tonnage:     46,328 GRT
Displacement:     52,310 tons
Length:     882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam:             92 ft 0 in (28.0 m)
Height:     175 ft (53.3 m) (keel to top of funnels)
Draught:     34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Depth:             64 ft 6 in (19.7 m)
Decks:             9 (A–G)
Installed power: 24 double-ended and 5 single-ended boilers feeding two reciprocating steam engines for the wing propellers and a low-pressure turbine for the center propeller;[1] output: 46,000 HP
Propulsion:     Two 3-blade wing propellers and one 4-blade centre propeller
Speed:     Cruising: 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph). Max: 24 kn (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Capacity:     Passengers: 2,435, crew: 892. Total: 3,327

In comparison to the latest ‘floating city’, the Allure of the Seas, the differences seem substantial except when you compare
specific statistics such as speed, overall length, height.
This baby holds 6,318 guests & boasts 2,384 crew.
The Allure of the Seas is the largest passenger ship ever constructed and the 
Statistics are simply mind-boggling:

* 225,282 GRT (gross register tonnage)

* 1,187 feet (362 meters) long

* 215 feet (66 meters) wide

* 213 feet (65 meters) high from the water line

* 30 feet (9.1 meters) draft

* 22 knots cruising speed

* 16 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators

* 4 bow thrusters with 7,500 horse power each

* 5,400 guests (double occupancy), 6,318 guests total, 2,384 crew (from appx. 80 countries)

* 2,706 staterooms

Cooking 3 x a day for 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew in 18 kitchens. Mindblowing!!

6 Addictions To Be Aware of While Traveling

6 Addictions To Be Aware of While TravelingBy: Casey Haslem

Everyone looks forward to holidays, vacations, and traveling. Whether it is a long weekend or an extended trip, there is so much excitement to look forward to, especially when it is a family trip. However, there are challenges when a loved one has been a victim of addiction. When all family members pay close attention and keep their guard up, they can help a recovering addict to avoid temptation. Here are six things to be aware of during a trip that can cause addiction, especially for someone who has already fallen prey to substance abuse.

Look out for motion sickness medication
Any type of medication, even over the counter varieties, are a danger to the recovering addict. Think twice before giving motion sickness medicine to someone who has struggled with substance abuse. That medication could be the first step toward falling into bad habits once more. If travel sickness is a problem, try other solutions. Have the person with that issue drive or sit up front. Open the windows to keep fresh air in the car. Use air conditioning to keep conditions cool. It might also help to allow the victim of motion sickness to sleep.

The same goes for sleeping pills
It may be hard to get enough rest on vacation and sleeping pills are a temptation. Go for early morning or late night walks instead to help a recovering addict be able to sleep.

Avoid alcohol consumption
While this is obvious for the alcoholic, alcohol is not a good idea for any recovering addict. It could become a replacement for the source of addiction. Choose non-alcoholic varieties. Have fun finding great smoothies and others interesting beverages.

Don’t fall for cigarette
Smoking is another big no-no for anyone, including the recovering addict. There are going to be cravings and triggers that could add fuel to the fire. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of smoking, leading to another form of addiction that is a health risk as well.

Go easy on the caffeine
Believe it or not, even caffeine can be a problem for someone who is recovering from substance abuse. Keep coffee to a limit or go with a decaffeinated version.

Gambling could mean trouble
Gambling is a risk for addicts as well. It’s another fix for someone lacking the drug of choice.

Need any more advice? could help.

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Avian Flu Confirmed in China

Avian Flu Confirmed in ChinaThe World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that influenza A (H7N9), commonly seen in birds and referred to as Avian Flu, has been identified in a number of people in China. Confirmed cases have been reported in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this is the first time this virus has been seen in people.

Symptoms of infection include severe respiratory illness including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

There is no recommendation against travel to China at this time.

People living in China or traveling to China should practice thorough hand washing, food safety guidelines and avoid contact with animals.

Here is a list of recommendations by the CDC:

    -Do not touch birds, pigs, or other animals.
    -Do not touch animals whether they are alive or dead.
    -Avoid live bird or poultry markets.
    -Avoid other markets or farms with animals (wet markets).
    -Eat food that is fully cooked.
    -Eat meat and poultry that is fully cooked (not pink) and served hot.
    -Eat hard-cooked eggs (not runny).
    -Don’t eat or drink dishes that include blood from any animal.
    -Don’t eat food from street vendors.

Practice hygiene and cleanliness:

    -Wash your hands often.
    -If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
    -Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
    -Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    -Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups, with people who are sick.
    -See a doctor if you become sick during or after travel to China.
    -See a doctor right away if you become sick with fever, coughing, or shortness of breath.
    -If you get sick while you are still in China, visit the US Department of State website to find a list of local doctors and hospitals.

You can find the most recent health travel notices from the CDC by visiting

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Cycling Vacations are Great

Cycling VacationsContributed by: Kerri Stewart

Why cycling trips?
This author went on her first cycling holiday to France last summer and was hooked! These holidays are so very different from the typical experience of sitting on a beach or walking around a city on a packed itinerary on a short break. They are hugely sociable and enjoyable active; you can opt for gentle bike riding holidays if you’re a beginner or less keen for a fitness challenge or more difficult routes and levels if you want to be physically active and challenged – whilst seeing amazing sights.

Each of the tours are accompanied and you sleep incredibly well afterwards – it’s a revelation to be cycling and moving while traveling if you’re used to sitting down for much of the day. It’s also very unusual to be coming home from a holiday feeling and looking better than ever from your exercise – even when you’ve been enjoying plenty of delicious local food and drink while you’ve been away! For many people, these types of holiday can really kick-start a passion for cycling and they are also a great way to travel with a family and enjoy quality time together, while developing your fitness, cycling skills and taking in exciting new vistas and cultures.

The joy of vacationing with a bike
So often, holiday experiences are marred by travel or getting lost on unfamiliar roads. But cycling holidays are a different experience altogether. On two wheels, you can experience the world at your own pace. Opt for a gentle meandering bike ride through the Loire in France. Speed along on a high-tech bike spec in the Moroccan Atlas mountains. Travel the length and breadth of Vietnam or explore the US coastline – the choice is yours. Each cycling holiday comes with a grade, so you know what to expect and it explains whether there will be elements of off-road cycling and what sort of vehicle support is provided during the trip, for times when you can’t bike anymore!

Enjoying the surroundings
On these types of holidays, it is important that you’re confident about your fitness level and it is well worth taking some refresher lessons before you go and some cycling practice, so that you get the most from your trip. Once you’re there, you’ll be able to experience the surroundings in the most pleasant manner, enhancing the experience by being physically active and moving with other people in a friendly group. You’ll also build up a great appetite for your food, which is half the fun of traveling overseas!

Kerri Stewart writes regularly on cycling holidays and family trips for a range of consumer magazines and publications. A keen cyclist, she recently traveled through Spain on a tandem!

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Try Patagonia for Your Next Adventure Holiday

Try Patagonia for Your Next Adventure Holiday

Image from

Contributed by: Ruth Margrove

Taking the leap of faith and choosing to do something a little bit different with your holiday can be genuinely liberating; the most challenging moments are often what we remember for the rest of our lives. Get out of your comfort zone and discover what the world has to offer through the experience of adventure. Patagonia, the Southern region of South America, spanning much of Chile and Argentina, boasts some of the most dramatically spectacular landscapes in the continent. From the southern portion of the Andes mountains to the plains of Argentina this region is carved with glacial passages and crystal clear lakes. To get your holiday off to an exciting start, try an expedition of the wild kind, here are a few ideas for making Patagonia your adventure holiday destination.

White Water Rafting
Cross the Andes on a white water rafting expedition that will get your adrenaline pumping. Rio Manso is situated on the western frontier of the Argentinian boarder, in the Rio Negro province. This is where your white water rafting expedition will begin. The journey will take you down the Manso River to the Chilean border for your passport to be stamped in a cabin in the woods, before continuing to Torrentoso, Rio Steffan and ending in Lago Tura Tura, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. By the time you arrive in Lago Tura Tura, you will have completed the exciting mission of crossing the Andes by raft. Take in spectacular landscapes and enjoy beautiful camping spots, making this an expedition of a lifetime.

Patagonia also has some spectacular mountain ranges to discover on foot. The landscape is rugged and transversed by glaciers, with the stunning panoramas mirrored in its beautiful clear lakes. These wild lands are sparsely populated due to the nature of the landscape, but is ideal for trekking. With the possibility to trek routes of differing expertise levels, Patagonia can be ideal for everyone from the beginner, to the experienced hiker. See the Los Glaciers national park where the famous Mt. Fitzroy peak touches the clouds and take a hike to the Torre Glacier, overlooking the south Patagonian icecap – this scene will blow you away.

Horse Riding
Riding on horseback is a great way to access some of Patagonia’s less accessible, but stunning, scenery. No matter what your level of skill, just saddle up and ramble through Argentina’s wild grass plains and up through the hills, where the sweeping landscape stretches out before you. Riding in northern Chile will take you to the green Cochamo Valley to see plunging waterfalls, while the Argentinian Bariloch Lake District in the Andes foothills also draws visitors. The Tierra del Fuego National Park in the south is also a fantastic place on trek through. With stony beaches, cliffs and forests, this is the last point you can reach before Antarctica.

Patagonia is an undiscovered region of varied landscapes that is apt for exploration by the intrepid traveler. An adventure of the Patagonian type will have you scaling glaciers, rafting down rivers and cantering through grass planes on horseback. Take to the hills and find your adventurous side.

Author Bio
This guest post was written by Ruth Margrove on behalf of Swoop Patagonia, a bespoke travel company which organises fantastic tours of the Patagonia region of South America. Ruth is a travel writer and blogger who loves to experience the thrills of discovering new countries through trekking.

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Why Airplane Food Sucks

airline food preparation

Airline food is mass production; don't expect gourmet cuisine

I’m a big believer in science, even though I have some nagging doubts about the latest scientific explanation why airplane food (these days) tastes so bad. True, the explanation of how foods need to be spiced up to taste like anything at all and how taste buds suffer from flavor arrest the higher up we are, sounds logical, but does not explain why a pan fried steak with sauteed mushrooms and Pommes Parisienne on a transatlantic Sabena flight from Brussels to New York in 1972 tasted like heaven at 36,000 feet.

Some of us may remember flying in the sixties and seventies, before deregulation, when airlines like Sabena, Singapore Airlines, Garuda and Swissair served full meals with great tasting fresh food. The rhythm of a flight consisted of a snack after take off, a full meal in midair and lunch or breakfast, depending which way your travel went. I remember a Christmas Eve flight from Amsterdam to Singapore on Singapore Airlines in 1976 with stops in Rome, Bahrain and Bangkok, which at each take off was followed by those cities native cuisine dinner, lunch and breakfast, a true Tour de Gourmet that lasted 26 hours.

But deregulation came and flavorful food went first to the front of the plane and from there probably out of the window.
Today science (or maybe pseudo science) wants us to believe that the moment we step aboard a “modern” airliner, our taste buds loose all sensitivity.
It starts with the cabin atmosphere drying out our nose and as the plane climbs higher into the air, it numbs up to 1/3 of our tastebuds, science claims. But once the airliner reaches cruising altitude somewhere at 35,000 ft or higher, the artificial humidity inside the fuselage to reduce corrosion, wreaks havoc with our tastebuds as cotton mouth sets in.

Modern food safety standards require all meals to be cooked first on the ground and during that process airlines add a lot of salt, spices and sweeteners to their foods to try to offset the taste numbing experience that reportedly comes with altitude. After cooking, the portions are blast-chilled and refrigerated until they can be stacked on carts and loaded on planes. Another modern safety rules prohibits open-flame grills and ovens on commercial aircraft, so attendants must contend with convection ovens that blow hot, dry air over the food.

Experts these days agree that getting any food to taste good on a plane is an elusive goal, because the  packaging, freezing, drying and storage are hard on flavor. ‘Ice cream is about the only thing I can think of that tastes good on a plane,’ says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. I see a Cold Stone Creamery franchise in the friendly skies in our future, but I am still wondering why that steak at 35,000 feet on that Sabena flight so long ago, was one of the best steaks I ever had. Must have been the ambiance of a jetliner fuselage, being surrounded by strangers enroute to an exciting destination. Oh the mind, it’s such a powerful thing.

DOTUC is a Political Statement Airline Fee travel options

How can anyone be excited about air travel anymore?

I haven’t flown in ages, partly because I absolutely detest the cattle prodding TSA procedures I have to endure at check ins and…I live on Amelia Island, which greatly eliminates the annual desire for leisure travel. It is fair to say however that in my younger years I traveled 90% of the world to get it kind of out of my system.

I traveled an awful lot when flying was mostly a pleasure of fixed price travel packages and not today’s a la Carte price gouging that some airlines seem to have taken a liking to.
So I was ready to spit fury all over Spirit Air’s latest fee, which charges passengers $2 per flight for Department of Transportation regulations Unintended Consequences. Yep, you read that right. $4 round trip to offset the cost of a series of new Department of Transportation passenger protection regulations, introduced a couple of weeks ago. The fee is called DOTUC fee (Department of Transportation Unintended Consequences), intended to cover costs associated with the DOT’s new regulations. The $2 fee went into effect on Tuesday, January 31.

One of the DOT’s recently enacted rules gives flyers the option to change or cancel a reservation within 24 hours of booking; it’s this law in particular that’s given Spirit cause to charge extra. The airline’s reasoning? By reserving seats for customers who have yet to commit, Spirit will lose inventory and, consequently, money.

My initial reaction was that Spirit is using rules created to protect flyers, as an excuse to charge them more. Ready to set my keyboard on sharp and fire off some inflammatory comments about this practice, my eyes caught Spirit President and CEO Ben Baldanza’s curious explanation: “People love the idea of not having to commit to a reservation, but this regulation, like most, imposes costs on consumers. Wouldn’t we all like to eat all we want and not get fat? Regulators like to try to sell the idea of this rule, but have ignored the cost impact to consumers. You simply can’t eat all you want without consequences.” Hmmm?!

Before my feet started tingling and my blood pressure rising I heard my wise mother’s advice: “You have to think further than the length of your nose,” one of her favorite teachings when my brothers and I grew up. And so my nose told me that Baldanza was aiming at something beyond the mundane fact of another price hike.

By saying ” this regulation, like most, imposes cost” he was definitely pointing at something much more ominous that an artfully construed metaphor of fat people.
Truth be known, Baldanza, just as many other company execs, was overtly exposing the fact that they are tired of all the government meddling and mingling with more rules and regulations and ridiculous laws appearing daily, constantly interfering with normal market mechanisms.

Adding a $2 fee to a ticket is not really going to bankrupt anyone, but it should send a message to at least the flying population of this country, that if government is not reduced soon, we’re looking at a much more unbearable cost of living picture. Spirit for example was hit with a $50,000 penalty last year for advertising violations after posting a $9 fare on Twitter, which then required users to click to two websites to figure out the additional taxes and charges. As a matter of fact, in 2011, airlines and travel agencies admitted violating price-advertising rules in more than 20 cases and agreed to fines totaling more than $1 million. The amount is hardly worth mentioning when spread out over almost 200 million domestic flight transactions in 2011; about half a penny per transaction. But as it’s the cost of doing business, we John Public, collectively will pay. Collectivity is a form of Communism. Even though I do not have children, I have paid fees and taxes to support the public school system all my life.  It’s the nature of the beast seeking an antidote for government interference and meddling.

Airport and Travel Security

More than 10 years after the ugliness of 911, most people have been fully trained to accept government rule causing any type of inconvenience, discomfort and loss of freedom … and pay for that, while  willfully neglecting the statistical facts that:

• You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack
• You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack
• You are six times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack
• You are eight times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack
• You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane
• You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack
• You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack
• You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack
• You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack
• You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack
• You are nine times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack
You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

These are the numbers…and the numbers don’t lie. Politicians do.

We Found a Cheap Orlando Motel Near Disney

Disney OrlandoI recently took my five year old grandson and his teenaged aunt on a trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, on a very tight budget. At first I wanted to stay in one of the resorts so we could see the fireworks and night water parade from our room, but after researching hotel prices, (the least expensive was $305.00 per night) camping in a tent at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground was the only viable option. Yes, it was mid July and high temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms were indeed a concern; but we could cook marshmallows over a fire with Chip and Dale and see the lighted boat parade. Still, $66.00 per night in a tent was pricey considering there would be no relief from the high humidity and the mosquitos for two nights.

Next, we found Disney’s All Star Movie Resort property for $124.00 per night that included giant cut-outs of a 30 foot Woody and a 47 foot icon of Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. That would be exciting, but we would have no view of the parade and there would be no marshmellow cook-out with costumed characters. Surely, I could find something with air conditioning, that included a free shuttle to the Magic Kingdom, priced between the $66.00 and $124.00 each night; so I kept looking.

Cheap Orlando MotelI looked on, but wasn’t comfortable with committing to a hotel that was un-named. I found some rooms on as well, but nothing priced in the middle. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I saved money on the room, we would have more money to spend inside the theme park on souveniers and ice cream.

After much thought and consideration about our lodging arrangements, and visiting my mother’s home in Palatka, Florida, we left armed with a box of cereal, a few snacks and directions to the Knights Inn Main Gate Motel, on 192 in Orlando. The rooms were listed at $32.00 per night. They advertised rooms that were recently renovated, included a free shuttle to the park, had free internet, a swimming pool, and a free continental breakfast. How bad could it be, right?

On our way to Orlando, we stopped at Winn Dixie purchasing some milk to go with the cereal, and chicken and salads for lunch, confident we could keep them fresh in our cooler, not knowing if our “economy conscious” room would have a fridge or microwave. Concerned that $32.00 was too good to be true, we decided after we checked in, we would figure out what to do about dinner and breakfast the following morning.

Orlando Swimming PoolThe MapQuest directions were perfect and we pulled up to the lobby. The grass hadn’t been cut for a few weeks and there was some trash littering the parking lot that was practically empty. In many people’s eyes, this place was a dump! My 16 year old daughter pointed out a family happily swimming in the sparkling pool as we got out of my car. “What do you think?” I asked. “Can you handle staying here?”

“Let’s go for it!” She answered.

We checked in for our two night stay and including tax, title and insurance we were out the door, with keys in hand, for less than $90.00. We drove to the next building down from the lobby and entered our room. The room was suprisingly clean with an ample supply of fresh towels.

Recently renovated obviously means they painted over the old wallpaper, because the wallpaper that was separating from the wall WAS freshly painted! I pushed the broken tile in the bathroom back against the wall covering a small hole in the bathroom. The air conditioner ran constantly, most likely because you could see daylight entering the room all around the front door, but it locked securely so we felt safe.

Recently Renovated Motel RoomThe internet was super fast and we had cable television, but no remote control. I couldn’t get a dial tone on the telephone, so I figured a “wake up” call was out of the question. The alarm clock was about five hours off, and had no battery backup, so the teenager set the alarm on her cell phone; all was good.

Ally chose dinner at Taco Bell, which worked out well on our budget. The room was equipped with a dorm-room sized microwave and refrigerator, so we had chicken and taco leftovers for the following night’s dinner. With a five year old in tow, we weren’t sure how long we would be at the Magic Kingdom, but if we came in late, at least we had dinner under control.

I picked up a few extra sporks, napkins and straws at Taco Bell once I realized I had only Solo drinking cups in my trunk. The cups would work for a bowl of cereal since the free continental breakfast only included coffee, orange juice and donuts (while they lasted).

Gap Around the Door

Gap Around the Door

After a dip in the pool we settled into the room for the night. While Jason dozed off, Ally and I discussed the free shuttle. It only left to the theme park at 8:15 AM and returned to the hotel just twice; at 8:30 or 10:45 PM. We decided to pay the $15.00 Disney parking fee for the day and drive to the park once we learned a cab ride would cost about $20.00 if the shuttle didn’t work out for us. Which, as it turns out, the FREE shuttle did not work out, because the kids slept later than expected the first morning. When they did wake up, they popped out of bed, brushed their teeth and practically bounced to the lobby for breakfast. They returned with two of the tiniest styrofoam cups I have ever seen. One with orange juice for Jason and the other one was about half full of coffee, for me. “That was the last of the coffee.” Ally told me. “And there was no food at all.” So we pulled out the Solo cups and sporks, and enjoyed boxed cereal and ice cold bottled water for breakfast.

As it turns out, we spent nearly 13 hours at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The kids were wonderful the entire day and we stayed through the light parade, the laser light show and the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle. Jason, the five year old, exemplified what Walt Disney must have had in mind when he envisioned his themed parks. The day was indeed full of wishes that came true, the magic of special effects and dreams that will last a lifetime!

While we were out, housekeeping did a wonderful job tidying up our room and replenishing linens. If you can handle a bit of imperfection, the Knights Inn Main Gate, well, honestly, for the price – it was just fine!

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Nakations are coming to US Beaches

Orient Beach in St.Martin is world famous for its nakations

Leave it to travel website Tripadvisor to keep the finger on the pulse of America when it comes to Stacations and Nakations.  In just one year time 17 out of 100 more Americans announced they would ‘love to see and be seen’ at a clothing-optional destination,” the site said today.
TripAdvisor asked 22,091 of its US readers if they would bare all at the beach and 48 percent said yes, up from last year’s nude beach survey, in which 31 percent of respondents said: “Love it”. Well, 22,000 respondents definitely gives validity to a survey, even though the answers may have been skewed a little.

Coincidentally last night during a happy hour with friends on our back porch, the topic of nude beaching came up since for 20 somewhat years I lived near St.Martin’s famous Orient Beach, where most every morning I could be found splashing through the surf the way I was created. People often bring up my St.Martin years as it was the place my wife and I met, but also because the dual nation island has taken a front seat in people’s imagination when it comes to cheap liquor and naked bodies bouncing in beaches.

What’s the appeal?
Well contrary to what people claim on Tripadvisor about “the spaces often benefit from a lack of crowds and beautiful settings that can be enjoyed by any demographic,” the appeal is a combination of feeling absolute freedom in crystal clear waters, an all over suntan without lines and a small percentage of exhibitionism.

Anyone claiming that they would love to go to Clothing optional beaches because these beaches are not crowded is in denial. To prove that simple fact, one only has to go to St.Martin and check out where cruise visitors go first, the moment they come off the ship. In the bus via French Quarter to Orient Beach. Reality is that Orient Beach is so popular that most of the time the beach is crowded with locals and vacationers alike mingling in beach bars and restaurants, especially when Happy Hour Two for One runs from 11:30am until 4:30pm when the sun goes down behind the center island hill ridges.

So when Tripadvisor claims that “Travelers indicate in their reviews that the real appeal of nude beaches has nothing to do with flaunting one’s flesh or checking out the neighboring eye candy,” you should take that remark with a grain of salt, or in French ‘Un Grain de Sel’.
And let’s face it, if a rapidly growing number of Americans, one out of two in this survey would prefer to go to a nude beach for its “lack of crowds” and “scenic beauty”, our beautiful beaches here on Amelia Island would be crowded beyond capacity, instead of me counting a total of 7 people this morning when I walked my two miles around 8:30am.

Nakations are the up and coming thing, even in the Bible belt, but why can’t we give it a more appropriate name such as the German FKK abbreviation (Freie Koerper Kultur= Free Body Culture), because wearing nothing on a hot sunny day at the beach is definitely more an expression of liberation than sexuality, and who knows for those of us who are self conscious, there is always a work out option at Club 14.

Stop Running Red Lights

Stop Running Red Lights

Stop Running Red Lights

40% of Florida accidents happen at intersections and a lot of those are caused because people run red lights. Law enforcement wrote over 300,000 tickets for running red lights in Florida last year. They write tickets to bring attention to this dangerous and illegal behavior. Awareness, even if it is costly, will help prevent accidents, reduce injuries and save lives!

Here are a few tips that will help you avoid a ticket and keep the roads a little bit safer:

This is one of my personal pet peeves: If a stop light or traffic signal is inoperative, treat the intersection as if it were a four way stop! Why is this so difficult for people to grasp? If the light is out, it becomes a four way intersection. Every single time I come across a non-working signal people just drive straight through the intersection as if they have a green light. Inoperable traffic signals do not give any one direction the right of way – all traffic must stop!

When waiting for the light to change to green, do not creep over the cross walk and into the intersection.

When turning right on red, you must first come to a complete stop. Then yield to all pedestrians and all traffic with a green light.

When you stop at a red light, you are supposed to stop before the crosswalk or the “stop” bar, whichever is closer.

A full stop is required and you must yield to anyone visually impaired. They will use either a white/red cane or a guide dog to cross the road.

Watch for bicycles and pedestrians!

Head to your destination a minute or two earlier so you are not in a hurry when you drive. My mother always reminded my kids when they were learning to drive that they have a 2,000 pound weapon in their hands!

Remember, stopping at a green light can be just as hazardous as running a red one!

If you receive multiple tickets within 12 months for red light violations, you may be ordered to attend driver improvement school!

Drive safely!

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