Renting a car is such a common part of the travel experience that you’d think the process would be straightforward and transparent — yet somehow it is anything but. Do I need to buy additional insurance? What about paying to refuel the car? I hear horror stories about phony damage claims; should I be worried? No one is around to inspect the car with me; is that okay? Can I drive into another country? Do I need all the extras they offer me at the rental counter? These questions come up pretty much every time we rent a car. Again, anything but straightforward. Among all your options, there are some things you don’t need to do, or even should not do, when renting a car. Below are 10 of them. 1. Prepaying for gasoline. Prepaid gasoline charges appeal to our desire for simplicity while traveling, and also to concerns about being late for flights, as every few minutes added to the trip to the airport create more risk for arriving too late to board. As airport security has … [Read more...] about 10 Things Not to Do When Renting a Car
Do you have to pay to make your own website
Author: RichardNikaDate of Trip: August 2008 I’d wanted to visit Russia since my teenage years; after the Soviet Union collapsed in ’91, I sometimes joked that I had missed my chance to go there when it was still “dark and evil.” I didn’t know if I’d ever get there, but the laws of planetary motion finally dictated a trip this past July and August. You might say that it was “in the stars.” I’d wanted to see a total eclipse of the sun ever since I was into astronomy and science fiction as a kid. My dad wasn’t about to allow my then-adolescent self to travel alone from Buffalo to Minneapolis for the 1954 eclipse, and I missed the 1963 spectacle because I was too busy courting my wife-to-be. But when I realized, early in 1970, that a total would be crossing Mexico and the southeastern US on March 7, I checked the weather forecasts carefully, flew to Virginia Beach (I was then living in southern Michigan) and saw a beautiful … [Read more...] about 3 days in Novosibirsk, Siberia – AND a total solar eclipse!
Author: Ben ShakmanDate of Trip: March 2006 This is a four part trip report that covers our drive from Illinois to Dover, some missteps with flights, our trip around Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland), and our return travel. Of note: I traveled both ways with our daughters (age 5 & 7) while my wife made her way to Germany from Iraq in order to join us for this adventure. There are more pictures from this trip on our website at smugmug.com. March 17th (Day 0) March 18th (Day 1) March 19th (Day 2) We arrived at the PAX terminal and a very nice member of the Air Force Reserve on his Annual Training from Arkansas gave us a ride back from the long-term parking (wouldn’t it be great if there was a better way when one flies out of Dover?) so that we could drop off our vehicle. With the truck in long-term parking, our baggage in the terminal, and a minor sign-up glitch fixed — we were all set to fly. I had a little bit of time … [Read more...] about Operation Iraqi Freedom vacation – in Europe!
Author: DocJohnBDate of Trip: May 2006 The only similarities between a freighter cruise and mass market cruising is the sea…well, maybe not. Background I started thinking about taking a freighter cruise many years ago, but it was always in the back of my mind. Last year while on a Mexican Riviera cruise we were in the port of Manzanillo where I noticed a number of containerships in port with us. Late in the afternoon one of these ships got underway. I was watching it depart using binoculars when I noticed a lady walking on the bridge wing. She was taking pictures and I had the thought that she was a passenger. Well, that got me to thinking again about freighter cruising. Around the first of the year I started doing some internet research. There are only 3 or 4 companies in the U.S. that deal with bookings (although individual travel agents do so). I eventually picked a company out of Connecticut called Maris Freighter Cruises (http://freightercruises.com/). The company is … [Read more...] about Freighter Trip to the Mediterranean
Ford's F-150 trucks are perennial best sellers as well as regular nominees and frequent winners of Motor Trend's Truck of the Year and similar awards. This year, Ford has added a revolutionary new aluminum body. You can see how it's assembled at the Rouge Factory Tour, part of Ford's Henry Ford complex in Dearborn, Michigan. The complete tour experience includes a visit to an observation deck, a walking tour of the plant, a 13-minute film, a 14-minute multisensory experience, and a visit to a gallery of historical Ford products. Tours operate Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of varying production schedules, the factory is idle at some times and is closed on some holidays. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $11 for youths. Advance reservations are recommended. The complex center is in Dearborn, about 12 miles from Detroit Airport and 20 miles from the city center. Public transit is possible but not convenient. Ford's F-150 trucks are perennial … [Read more...] about These Awe-Inspiring Factory Tours Will Make You Proud to Be an American
Tips for avoiding scams and theft while traveling are a staple of the travel writing genre; pretty much every guidebook or travel website dedicates some space to the subject. Identity theft is a growing problem worldwide—especially for travelers, who are very vulnerable, forced as they are to use unsecured Internet connections, carry extensive personal documentation with them at all times, and share their credit cards with merchants about whom they know nothing and whom they’ll never see again. Modern technology hasn’t made it any easier for honest folks to avoid identity theft, either; witness the practice of websites like Facebook and LinkedIn, which often keep you logged in to the site, even after you close your browser or turn off your computer. Someone getting unfettered access to your closest friends on Facebook could definitely shake out some very “helpful” information before you knew it. As time and technology advance, this problem is only going to … [Read more...] about 11 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft While Traveling
According to Mitchell Blatt, lead author of the Panda Guides Hong Kong guidebook, the most common scam in China is the so-called "tea ceremony scam," in which a young Chinese person asks tourists if they want to experience an authentic Chinese tea ceremony. "Then they take the tourists to a place they have a relationship with, and when the bill comes, it could be a few thousand yuan—much higher than market price. "This is particularly common in popular tourist cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Xi'an," he says. According to Brent Cumberford, founder of personal finance website VOSA, the tea ceremony scam can turn dangerous. A friend of his was drugged during such a ceremony. "Glasses where raised and all the locals drank their tea like it was a shot. My friend only had a sip. They tried to get him to shoot the tea, which he thought was weird since it was hot tea," Cumberford says. "Within a few seconds he started to feel light headed, dizzy, and immediately figure out that he … [Read more...] about 9 Unusual Travel Scams That Could Ruin Your Trip
When booking a flight, the price you see is the price you pay—that's the law. The EEC and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) require airlines to display the full cost of an air ticket, including all mandatory airline charges, governmental taxes, and user fees, in online postings and other advertising. Travel providers, from online travel agencies (OTAs) to airline websites, must clearly display full prices or face penalties. When booking a flight, the price you see is the price you pay—that's the law. The EEC and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) require airlines to display the full cost of an air ticket, including all mandatory airline charges, governmental taxes, and user fees, in online postings and other advertising. Travel providers, from online travel agencies (OTAs) to airline websites, must clearly display full prices or face penalties. The DOT mandates certain air-travel rights, including passenger rights in cases of involuntary bumping, by … [Read more...] about 7 Air Passenger Rights You Might Not Know About
All insurance is about minimizing risk, and as travelers, you face three big-dollar risks that travel insurance can cover: Other travel risks, although annoying, are generally trivial compared with those. And although many travel insurance policies cover them, you shouldn’t pay a lot extra to buy coverage. Although causes and payments for most forms of insurance are fairly obvious, the fine print of travel insurance contains numerous gotchas that can cause a lot of problems. Insurance companies pay experts to figure out ways to deny coverage, so if you don’t address the gotchas while planning a trip, coverage you thought you purchased may evaporate. In insurance jargon, “named peril” simply means that if a risk is not specifically mentioned in an insurance policy’s fine print (usually as a “covered reason”), it isn’t covered. Terrorism? With many policies, you can cancel or return early only if an overt “terrorist act” occurs … [Read more...] about Everything You Need to Know About Travel Insurance
Comiket is short for Comic Market, the largest biannual event for lovers of the Japanese anime, manga, and game subculture. The event is held at Tokyo Big Sight once in summer and once in winter, over three days each time. Starting first as a small-scale event for the sale of fan-fiction and fan-art, it has evolved to be a large-scale event, with participation of cosplayers and commercial booths. Nevertheless, the mainstay spirit of Comiket is still in its representation of all things fan-made, the one great event where fans can socialize with those sharing their interests, and celebrate all that they love. If the previous section wasn’t necessary for you, and you know very well the glorious manifestations of all things ‘moe’, then please do skip and go on to the subsequent sections. If you are an innocent bystander, and would like to get a glimpse into the peculiar and feisty Japanese subculture, then here’s what you should keep in mind in deciding whether to … [Read more...] about Going to Comiket