Air Travel with Gifts

December 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Air Travel with Gifts

If you are traveling during the holidays via the airlines, do not wrap any gifts and place in your carry-on or checked baggage. All contents are subject to a security search and you may find your packages(s) unwrapped. You can easily pack gift wrapping supplies separately – just fold the required amount of wrapping paper and place in an outside zippered pocket to keep flat, along with wrapping tissue or ribbon you may need.

“Hidden Airline Fees”

November 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on “Hidden Airline Fees”

In a continued effort to be competitive yet profitable, airlines are implementing ways to generate more income. This is particularly true on domestic flights but it is starting to happen on some international flights as well. For example, Allegiant Airlines charges for your carry-on bag if it is “oversized” (even though it may fit in the overhead compartment) and US Air now charges for bottled water and snacks. To avoid surprises you may not be prepared for, read your e-Ticket reservation carefully to be aware of charges for baggage or seat changes (in economy class) to a premium location, and go on-line or call the carrier to obtain more information.

Travel Insurance

October 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Travel Insurance

Have you (or a family member) ever scheduled a vacation and experienced a medical problem which caused you to cancel your trip and lose money paid for flights, hotels, tours or even a cruise? Or needed to see a doctor while traveling? When making a significant investment in your vacation, travel insurance should be purchased to help protect your investment – especially to foreign destinations where your personal medical insurance may not cover. Travel insurance is primarily intended to cover emergency medical needs while traveling and reimbursement for non-refundable, pre-paid expenses when your trip has to be canceled or interrupted due to covered illness or injury, but often includes other benefits such as lost baggage or a missed flight connection. Some companies are now offering optional additional coverage such as canceling for work reasons or for any reason.

CHIANTI COOKING & TUSCANY SPA RETREAT

September 25th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on CHIANTI COOKING & TUSCANY SPA RETREAT

October 5 – 12, 2008, Women-only Tour to Tuscany! Jan Acorn, owner of Gateway Destinations, had the pleasure of leading a small group of ladies into the heart of Tuscany, Italy for eight days in October. We began with a guided walking tour of Florence, a delicious welcome dinner at a local trattoria to get to know each other, and spent the next morning exploring on our own before venturing into the countryside for the rest of the week. Our countryside adventure began in the Chianti region during the bustling grape harvest season and included cooking classes, wine tasting, an introduction to olive oil,  market visit, tour of Meleto Castle and much more! Our journey continued further south where we shopped and explored Siena and numerous charming villages, picked chestnuts and wild porcini mushrooms, enjoyed lunch in an authentic country kitchen, and picnicked in picturesque Pienza – all while residing at a luxurious thermal spa resort.  Read more about some of the highlights of this women’s journey.

Country Cooking in Tuscany

Two delicious evenings were spent in authentic country kitchens as our guests learned to cook treasured Italian family recipes with the Tuscan Mamas. Located in the heart of Tuscany, this cooking school resides in the beautiful forested hills of the Chianti region. From stuffed zucchini flowers, risotto with local fresh mushrooms, to gelato with fresh citrus and limoncello liqueur to name some of the dishes, our dinners were heavenly and fun to prepare. Join us in 2009 as we return for more cooking in this beautiful region of Italy!

Thermal Spa Indulgence in Italy

Our 8-day escorted women’s tour to Italy in October was rounded out by spending several relaxing days at Adler Thermae, a beautiful 5-star natural thermal spa resort in southern Tuscany. Overlooking an expansive valley filled with Cyprus trees, vineyards and olive orchards and located on a picturesque hillside in the tiny village of Bagno Vignoni, this resort has it all. It is blessed with non-odorous thermal water and unbelievable views. The rooms are spacious, well-appointed and all have views of the outdoor pools and valley below. The food and service are great, and the spa includes an array of fitness classes, exercise equipment and a wide variety of spa treatments. There are even bicycles available to tour the countryside.

Local Life in Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia

Aah…the simple pleasures of life lived as a local under the Tuscan sun! Our guide introduced our small group of ladies to authentic country life in this region. We started the morning by picking and sorting chestnuts as well as harvesting wild porcini mushrooms (a rare find), then visited the home of his mother in Castledelpiano. We enjoyed homemade polenta made with chestnut flour, our fresh mushrooms and other tasty regional food, while enjoying young wine made by his brother that morning. All in all, a perfect expression of la dolce vita!

Airplane Seats and Amenities

September 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Airplane Seats and Amenities

Airline seat size, pitch and legroom vary considerably between airlines and types of aircraft, even in the same class service. Amenities such as power outlets and video screens also vary a great deal. Go to www.seatguru.com to find out helpful information when planning your next long flight. Taking a few extra minutes may make a significant difference in the comfort level of your travel.

Buying Foreign Currency

August 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Buying Foreign Currency

For those of you traveling to Europe and dealing with the Euro, it has been unsettling to see how much less our US dollar can buy than in past years. April, June and July of this year were particularly weak months for the US dollar. There has been a steady drop in the price of the Euro since the beginning of August, however, which is encouraging to see. If you plan to travel to Europe in the next few months, you may want to consider purchasing some Euros now while the price has dipped. Your bank or other source from which you purchase your foreign currency will include a markup to cover their fee. To check the current price of foreign currency and obtain historical information, go to www.gocurrency.com.

Using Frequent Flier Miles

July 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Using Frequent Flier Miles

Most airlines are still awarding “free miles” to use for future free flights or upgrades as a way to encourage loyalty. “Free” seat availability has become more difficult to book, however, as airlines continually search for ways to increase revenue. These seats are released nearly a year in advance and disappear quickly, so book these flights well in advance. Even though you will pay a nominal fee, you may find more options by booking through an airline reservations representative or travel agent versus trying to book it on the Internet, especially for foreign or more complex travel. Using your “free miles” to purchase an upgrade to Business or First Class versus purchasing an Economy ticket may often be more advantageous so don’t overlook comparing it both ways.

Medication or Liquids on Flight Travel

June 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Medication or Liquids on Flight Travel

Requirements vary somewhat from country to country regarding carry-on medication and liquids during air travel. Always check with your airlines before you pack to find out the requirements for all countries you will be traveling through, (their websites will have this information). Typically, small containers of baby food, formula, breast milk or liquid medication may be carried on if traveling with a small child. Other liquids, such as toiletry items, must not exceed 3.4 ounces each and be placed in ONE (per person) clear zip-locked bag (maximum quart-size for US travel or liter-size for most foreign travel). Medications should be kept in their original containers. You can always bring an empty day-by-day pill sorter to fill once you arrive at your destination.

Checking Luggage

May 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Checking Luggage

Not only is it more difficult to carry luggage onto commercial flights with the heightened security measures, it is now becoming more expensive to bring much luggage at all. In addition to luggage weight restrictions, several airlines have started to charge passengers for checking more than one bag. Starting May 1, 2008, Delta began charging most coach passengers $25 per checked bag (exceeding one) when checking in. This is undoubtedly an effort to reduce weight in order to save fuel costs. Packing less will not only simplify your travel, but may save you money as well!

Expediting Airport Security Checks

April 12th, 2008 / admin / Comments Off on Expediting Airport Security Checks

By now, everyone knows that liquids need to be kept to a minimum in any carry-on luggage when flying – no more than 3 oz. per item. Also, remember these bottles must be placed together in ONE QUART-sized plastic bag, and the bag must be removed and put through the x-ray machine separately. A few other helpful tips to speed up getting through security and minimizing your chance of a secondary screening by an agent include: avoid wearing a hat or excess jewelry, place your coat in your carry-on bag, wear slip-on shoes, and remember to remove any laptop from its case and place in the screening bin by itself.