Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thirteen Holiday Flight Tips

If you are traveling this Holiday Season, here are some tips to remember as you get ready.

1. On the Holiday: Fly on December 25 and I think you will find airports and planes are much less crowded.

2. Supply and demand: Staying in a hotel over Christmas? Look for properties that tend to draw a business clientele. Occupancy rates drop on and around the holidays, making for deals.

3. Clubs: Join all loyalty clubs, even if you don't care about the points/miles. You'll get treated better, particularly if the hotel or car rental agency is overbooked.

4. Parking: Airport parking lots are more likely to be full around Christmas and New Year's. Look into private parking lots located off airport premises (airportparkingreservations.com). They'll often guarantee a spot, they have free shuttles to and from the terminal, and they're cheaper.

5. Losing the wait: This is when airports get more people than they were built to handle. You can--and should--check in online up to 24 hours in advance. Just go to the carrier's website; you'll be walked through checking in and printing your boarding pass. If you're not checking bags, you'll be able to go straight to the gate.

6. Carry vs Ship: I ship gifts ahead so that I don't have to check bags. Airlines and airports aren't handling bags as quickly or as reliably as they used to, and I don't like to wait after finally getting off the plane.

7. Arrival: Go to the airport earlier than normal. Airport security is a nightmare around the holidays because of the sheer number of people and the fact that many of them are infrequent, inexperienced fliers.

8. No secrets: Wrap any gifts after you arrive. The TSA reserves the right to open anything.

9. Speaking of the TSA.: The rules for carrying on liquids and gels are confusing and not uniformly enforced. You can bring as many containers as you want, provided they all hold three ounces or less and fit in a single one-quart Ziploc bag. Containers do not need to have the manufacturer's label. You're supposed to remove the Ziploc from your carry-on when you go through security. If your liquids and gels are valuable to you, follow the rules to a T. If not, you may find it not worth the trouble.

10. Water...I want water: If you want to bring water or other drinks, buy them once you've passed through airport security.

11. And now, boarding: People are carrying on a ton of stuff, usually because they're bearing gifts. If you are, too, get on the plane as early as possible. Different airlines board passengers differently; sometimes, the same airline does it in different ways. Stand near the gate; you may even want to ask the agent how the boarding will happen. If the agents are boarding the plane by zone or group, wait until the group before yours is almost done, then enter the line. By the time you reach the front, your group will probably be called. And if not, what's the worst that can happen? They'll make you wait right near the gate.

12. In the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you: I wish we lived in a world where you were guaranteed overhead space near your seat. Until we do, I refuse to store my bag behind me, because I'll never get off the plane. Look ahead while you board: If the space above your seat is full, put your stuff as close to it as possible.

13. The pickup game: The days of circling the arrivals area are thankfully coming to an end. More and more airports have "cell phone lots" where drivers can park for free and then wait for arriving passengers to call. Use them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Airport Runways Info

For those of you traveling in or through Chicago, Seattle and D.C. you have some new runways. Ones debuted today in those cities.

Today, the first plane landed on Chicago O'Hare's new runway. It's expected to shorten delays. But fares won't come down soon. United and Delta, which control most of the gates at the airport, have apparently been blocking the sale of gates to rival airlines that might bring competition to fares. For example, Virgin America has been unable to buy gates, even though the FAA has given the airline approval to use the airport. In the meantime, fares at the airport have been rising, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

At Washington Dulles airport, a fourth runway opened today—the first since 1962. But don't expect delays to disappear right away. The airport hasn't opened up a new path for the planes to move around the airport, so there is a chokepoint that still has to be fixed.

Later today in Seattle, a third runway debuts. It will improve safety for planes landing in cloudy weather, say authorities. No word yet on delays or potential fare drops.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sunrise in November...colors are awesome.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Fall is fully upon us and these trees have now lost all their leaves. This cardinal and his friends will stay all winter, as long as I feed them. When the snow gets too deep to get to the bird feeder, I feed them on the back step. Birds get much needed food and our cats get entertainment. A glass patio door separates the two and the birds have no clue they are being stalked from inside the house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Local Attractions

Lewis and Clark came through here. Blowing in the wind, this flag marks the spot of an interactive interpretive center...but that's another story.

Here's a tip I give to aspiring travel writers...don't overlook your local attractions. Who better to write about a museum, special garden, or home town festival than a local? Maybe it's "old hat" to you, but others may not know about it. Publications are always looking for an insider's view on things.
Speaking of travel writing tips...want to learn how to become a travel writer? Check out my website, www.travelsandescapes.com. My ebook explains ins and outs of travel writing, gets you started with an article, and gives you some personal tips to get you on your way.
Happy writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Tips

Try these photo tips next time you are shooting or being shot with a camera.

Bright sunlight of midday is generally too harsh for anyone's good and can mean washed-out photos. If you're being shot in the early afternoon, look for a shady spot to provide greater contrast. Have your picture taken at dusk, if it's at all up to you. There's good reason that photographers call it the magic hour--pretty much everyone ends up looking hot.

In a perfect world, no one would ever have to be photographed by someone who's shorter than they are. Try to tuck your chin down slightly, but not so far down so that it looks like you're doing a yoga stretch. This will minimize any jowliness and emphasize your sexy eyes instead.

Pose like a pro: Don't stand with hips and shoulders square to the camera. It makes women look their widest. Stand so that your side is to the camera, and turn your upper body back toward the lens. Then put your weight on your back foot, and point your front foot forward. This will make your hips and tummy appear slimmer.

Cats, on the other hand, don't worry about things like this when they get photographed. They sit and look regal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day was two days ago. I don't know about you but I am reminded of Veteran's Day every time I see an American flag, hear the Star Spangled Banner, or think about Freedom. With that in mind, this is to honor all our Veterans...especially a couple that are near and dear to me. One was my dad. He is buried in a national cemetery in Iowa. And one is our son. I am proud of both of them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Canceled Flight? Here Some Tips

If your flight is canceled or you are bumped from a flight, Budget Travel gives us some advice and options.
Your airline is only responsible for getting you on the next departure with open seats. It pays to have your airline's 800 number on hand since that is quicker than standing in line at the counter to rebook. It doesn't hurt to ask if a competitor has open seats. Some airlines will gladly put you on a different airline.
As for compensation, you are only guaranteed something, usually a flight voucher. If you have been involuntarily bumped on a domestic flight, these rules apply: If you are on another flight within an hours, you get nothing; within 2 hours the airlines pays you the equivalent of your one way fare ($200 max); more than 2 hours later, you get 200 percent reimbursement ($400 max). Keep in mind...vouchers, not cash.

When all else fails, head to a favorite spot to relax. These flip flops found their spot in Cave Creek, Arizona. So many choices!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kansas City

Fountains, in parks, on walls, and in the middle of streets make Kansas City the City of Fountains. This cat fountain adorned a wall in Country Club Plaza.

Sculptures like this graceful penguin beg for their picture to be taken.

More goodies at The Farmer's Market.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It looks like the flip flops are getting ready to go again.
They learned a good packing tip from a flight attendant. To limit wrinkles lay multiple shirts or skirts or pants on top of each other. Then roll them all up together.

Flying long distances? Pack a pair of ballet type slippers in your carry on. They take up very little room. Once on the plane replace your shoes with the slippers. Your feet stay warm and comfortable without having bare feet.

Monday, November 3, 2008


These two want to be such good help. Problem is, they keep taking cat naps.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Travel and Food

Fresh baked bread pairs nicely with some cheese and wine for a picnic. Or take some home for crostini.

Pick up some apples from a farmer's market. Add cinnamon and sugar for a fabulous fall treat.

Spices from this shop in Tubac will get used for chili and fajitas this fall.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pier 39

Where's a good place to catch some sun in San Francisco? Pier 39, of course. Sun yourself with some friends. Boat loads of people pass by all day and wave to you.