Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trip Ideas - Travel Awards

Last night I read the latest issue (Nov. 2009) of one of my favorite travel magazines, ITN. They just announced a new award for travelers; the Phileas Fogg award. The award is so new that it is not yet listed on ITN's website. The concept of qualifying for an award seemed like a decent blog post. Some travelers need an inspiration, a challenge, to get outta town.

ITN travel awards are available only to subscribers and represent travels to a certain number of places. There are awards for visiting all 7 continents, all countries in Africa/Europe/CentAm/SoAm, all 24 time zones, and more.

Here is the complete list of ITN's travel awards and requirements:
  • Phileas Fogg - visit destinations from "Around the World in 80 Days"
  • 100 Nations - visit 100 of the 195 listed
  • Quarto Mondo - visit 49 countries
  • Travel is My Forte - visit 40 countries
  • World Traveler - visit the 40 most popular nations
  • ITN Globetrotter - visit the 20 most popular nations
  • 24 Time Zones
  • Continents - separate awards for 6 and 7 continents
  • Following the Equator - 13 countries at the center of the world
  • All of Africa - all 53 countries
  • Half of Africa - 27 of the 53
  • All of Europe - all 44 countries
  • All South America - 13
  • All Central America - 7
Subscribers can receive a certificate by confirming their travels--checking off the countries on a list or listing the month/year of visit. No receipts or documentation is necessary. Each certificate costs around $7. Each issue lists several recipients in the different award categories so people evidently like this program. I can imagine undergoing the challenge of completing the tasks but being realtively unfulfilled with a paper certificate. Perhaps it is said best by ITN in describing their Following the Equator certificate: "It's perfect for covering up cracks in a wall."

BTW, ITN will send you a FREE sample copy.

In my next post, I will write about some other trip ideas. Meanwhile, let me know what you think about these awards or if you know of other awards. What travel challenges have you or someone you know attempted? How about all of the tours offered by A&K, Rick Steves, or Tauck?

© 2009, Charles McCool

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Air Traveler's Holiday List

I published this back in 2002. How much is still true?

The following is the last verse, to be sung to the tune of the popular Christmas Carol, "The 12 Days of Christmas." Enjoy!

On the Twelfth Flight of Christmas, the airlines* should give us:
Undamaged Baggage

Pleasant Customer Service
Easier Check-in
No Overbookings
More Non-stop Flights, Please
Better Eating Choices
Convenient Parking
Increased Leg Room
More jetBlues**
Fewer Delays and
NO Lines at Se-cu-ri-ty

* Sure, the airline are not to blame for every air travel problem. What fun is there in teasing the airports or FAA?

** Substitute "Southwest" for "jetBlue," if desired.

Happy Holidays!
Charles McCool

author, Winning the Airfare Game

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to save on airfares the easy way

This is my article published many years ago on I have been involved recently in many research projects. I will continue to re-publish favorite travel skills articles. Let me know what topics are of interest to you

How to save on airfares the easy way

Check various routes to ensure you find lower airfares. A nonstop flight may be more or less expensive than a connecting or direct flight. Lower airfares may result from connecting in certain airports rather than others. Being a bit more creative with the routing can save you a bundle. On longer (such as transoceanic) flights, try splitting your itinerary into two separate roundtrips. For instance, lower airfares between Northeast cities and Hawaii can often be found through California (LAX, SFO, OAK). Buy separate Northeast-to-California and California-to-Hawaii roundtrip tickets; the total price can be much lower than the Northeast-to-Hawaii fare. In addition, split tickets allow consumers to select preferred airlines and create a stopover vacation

It pays (saves!) to shop around. Sometimes lower airfares are offered by certain websites, travel agents, or directly from the airline.

When you see a fantastic fare price, such as during a fare war (which can be up to nine months before flying), make your plans. You might not find better deals as the travel date approaches. When the fare drops, however, most airlines allow consumers to rebook and receive a travel voucher for the difference (as long as seats are available).

-Charles McCool, author, Winning the Airfare Game