Playa del Carmen:
An adult holiday!

Playa Del Carmen beach in Mexico
Playa Del Carmen beach in Mexico

The kids and the family will have their holidays for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come January, it’s your turn. Check out this incredible one-week adults-only getaway to beautiful, tropical, historic Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, presented by Honey Let’s Travel and Trips by Greg, with your hosts, Cap’n Paul Mixon and Marvelle Mixon, and Charlotte Mathis.

(Use your keyboard controls to enlarge the image below as needed.)

Playa del Carmen Beach Vacation

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RIVIERA MAYA:
Mystery in Paradise

Mayan ruins of Tulum near Playa del Carmen.  Carabian Beach is below.
Mayan ruins of Tulum near Playa del Carmen. Carabian Beach is below.

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to beautiful beaches, tropical breezes, and one of humanity’s most enduring puzzles — the disappearance of the Maya.

Almost every travel destination on the Gulf of Mexico gives you tropically-warmed surf, sand and climate in abundance. The Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, is true to that rule.

But the region also gives you a little something extra.

Are you one of those folks who likes to bring a good mystery to read on vacation? Well, when you come down here for a visit, save the page-turner novel for the flight down and back. This region has a mystery of its own for you — a real one, centuries old.

Your first clue is in the area’s touristy nickname — the Riviera Maya.

The name comes from the Mayan people. Their civilization extended from southern Mexico down through most of Central America.

Now, back when I was a grade-school student in the 1960s — you know, prehistoric times? — teachers like to cast people like the Maya as being “primitive.” Well, these folks were anything but that.

Over the centuries, they built incredible cities of stone, hundreds of them, some complete with schools, hospitals, libraries, sports arenas. About the only things missing were freeways and smog.

Just how advanced were the Maya? Well, let’s see. They:

  1. created an accurate 365-day calendar of their own.
  2. figured out the mathematical concept of zero about a millennium before Europeans did.
  3. accurately tracked the sun, moon and planets.
  4. developed their own writing system, 700 years before the birth of Christ.
  5. were expert farmers, creating terraced fields that they irrigated.
  6. Wrote and published thousands — some say tens of thousands — of books. Real books, on paper.

And if none of that is reason enough for you to show the Maya some love, there’s always this: These are the people who invented chocolate.

From about 1800 BC to roughly 800 AD or so, the Maya had it all working.

Then, something happened. Nobody knows exactly what that something is, but everyone knows the results. The Maya abruptly started abandoning their great cities — all of them — and fleeing into the jungle.

By 900 AD, it was over. When the Spanish showed up a few centuries later, what few great Mayan cities they found were overgrown and devoid of human life.

And what of all those thousands of Mayan books printed over the centuries? Only four are known to still exist — and no one alive today can read them.

Scientists from all over the world have tried to figure out the mystery of the Maya. So far, no one has. Decades of research and exploration have yielded a handful of theories, guesses, suppositions. That’s it. That’s all.

So instead of wondering if your car will start in the morning after spending the night under a snowdrift, spend a pleasant week or so on the Riviera Maya. Run your toes through the warm, white beach sand and order another margarita or a Montejo beer while you ponder this question:

Why would a skilled, smart and prosperous people let their entire civilization vanish without a trace?

You can start your investigation in Tulum, just outside the beach town of Playa del Carmen. There, you’ll find the remains of a Mayan city, overlooking the clear, warm waters of the Gulf. Bring your camera. Bring questions. Then head back to Playa del Carmen and form your own theories over a great seafood dinner and drinks on 5th Avenue.

If you don’t solve this mystery on your first visit to the Riviera Maya, no worries. You can always come back. And you should. The great Mayan cities may be long gone, but the beaches and the Montejo will still be here.

Thinking about a visit to the Riviera Maya? We’ve got one for you! Check out the box above.

Greg Gross is the Publisher/Sr. Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel!,” and the owner of the Trips by Greg travel agency, specializing in cultural and heritage travel worldwide.

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OAKLAND: Follow the wine!

Photo by Drew Bird
Photo by Drew Bird

San Francisco’s less respected sibling by the bay already has built a reputation for a banging food scene. Now, the word is spreading about its wines.

Long the home of some of the best soul food and BBQ in the country (although you’re seldom likely to hear about it over the din from Kansas City, Texas and other regional temples of smoked meats), Oakland over the last decade or so has expanded its menu and raised its standards in the kitchen.

From word-of-mouth food trucks to 5-star hotspots, Oakland has evolved from a dining afterthought to a culinary destination, and the city’s ethnic diversity has a lot to do with that.

You’d expect that in a city where the residents collectively speak 125 different languages.

Mexican food has long been a staple here, and Colombian, Cuban Salvadoran and Venezuelan cuisine are now become a regular part of Oakland palate. Likewise, Asian food is fundamental in “Oaktown.” But since the early 1980s, in addition to Japanese, Korean, Thai, Filipino and a pantheon of Chinese cooking styles,O Oakland has become Ground Zero for some of the best Vietnamese food this side of the South China Sea.

Drew Bird Photo

One of my favorites is Le Cheval, in the area near downtown known as Old Oakland. But if you’re feeling adventurous, just wander down along International Boulevard (the main drag once known and still referred to by old-school Oaklanders as East 14th Street), and try your luck in any likely looking Vietnamese/Chinese joint between 1st and 14th avenues.

But in truth, Oakland’s food scene has been hot for quite a few years now. The new element coming to the table is the wine.

Say “wine country” and “California” in the same sentence and most thoughts instantly turn north toward the state’s north coast wine country. The vineyards of Napa County– collectively are the alpha dog here, with vintners in nearby Sonoma and Mendocino counties, as well as the central California region, doing their best to get some respect.

Now, Oakland is offering up something else fresh besides its upscale cooking — an urban wine crawl. Raise your glass — or several — for the Oakland Urban Wine Trail.

Ten vintners have set up shop — and tasting rooms for visitors — in Oakland’s warehouse district, which runs along Estuary separating Oakland from Alameda.

Here’s a handy map.

We’re not talking updated versions of Cisco, Thunderbird or Pagan Pink Ripple here. These are serious wines from serious vintners. The common goal is to produce wines that can look Napa in the eye and not flinch.

If you’re stalking a nice dinner in one of Oakland’s upscale restos in Old Oakland or Jack London Square, or maybe just in your hotel room, any of these wineries would be a good place to score a bottle of fine wine.

Perhaps the best feature of this trail — aside from the wines, that is — is that you can do that stalking on foot, because the whole thing is walkable. Indeed, most of the wineries stand within a six-block radius of Jack London Square.

So no tasting and driving, right? Just sayin’.

But if the idea of doing this wine crawl on foot sounds a little daunting to you, there is an alternative — do by bicycle. Cycling tour companies have been offering spins through the Napa wine country for years. Now, you can go urban instead.

East Bay bike wine tour

East Bay Winery Bike Tours, based in Jack London Square, will take you on a your choice of loop routes that visits wineries in neighboring Alameda or Berkeley as well as Oakland.

They provide you with a bike, a helmet, a guide and a picnic lunch to enjoy between wine tastings and meeting the winemakers.

There are those who view Oakland as a kind of last frontier for the young entrepreneur with more ambition and passion than money, the kind of place where you can start from scratch and make something happen. Others will tell you that Oaktown is just the next city to fall prey to a wave of gentrification fueled by trust-fund hipsters and Bay Area tech money.

However you see it, the results are giving Oakland a lot of fresh flavor, and locals, travelers and the foodie universe are all taking notice. Maybe it’s time you introduced your tastebuds to the other side of San Francisco Bay.

The ten wineries that currently comprise the Oakland Urban Wine Trail are:
Campovida
95 Linden St.
(510) 550-7273

Cerruti Cellars
100 Webster St
(510) 550-2900

Dashe Cellers
55 Fourth St.
(510) 452-1800

Irish Monkey Cellars
1017 22nd Ave.
(510) 915-5463

Jeff Cohn Cellars
160 Franklin St.
(510) 465-5900

Periscope Cellars
518 Ninth St.
(510) 655-7827

Rosenblum Cellars
10 Clay St.
(877) GR8-ZINS (478-9467)

Stage Left Cellars
2102 Dennison St., Suite A
(510) 434-9930

Two Mile Wines
477 25th St.
(510) 868-8713

Urban Legend Cellars
621 Fourth St.
(510) 545-4356

By year’s end, they may be joined by Brooklyn West Winery.

There’s a bit of local history behind the name: Before changing its name to Oakland, this city was actually known as Brooklyn, CA. No disrespect, but this longtime former Oakland resident is glad the city fathers changed the name. Somehow, “the Brooklyn Raiders” just doesn’t sound right…

Greg Gross is the Publisher/Sr. Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel!,” and the owner of the Trips by Greg travel agency, specializing in cultural and heritage travel worldwide.

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“Pieces” of Africa in the Americas

candomble

When it comes to heritage travel for African-Americans, maroon is — or should be — the new black.

About an hour’s drive inland from the Colombian port city of Cartagena de Indias stands the village of San Basilio de Palenque. Population: roughly 3,500. Dusty streets, small, one-story homes and shops. A humble Catholic church. At first glance, nothing remarkable.

But its very existence is remarkable.

When the Spanish began shipping African captives into slavery at Cartagena de Indias back in the 17th century, some broke free and fled into the wilderness. They returned — often — to free every kidnapped African they could. Eventually, they built their own little walled, fortified village. A palenque.

They were led by an African king named Benkos Biohó.

Ultimately, the Spanish not only did they opted to leave the town alone, but formally granted its occupants their freedom. Which is how San Basilio de Palenque became the first community of free Africans anywhere in the Americas — North, Central or South — a fact that won it special recognition from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

To every descendant of every African ever enslaved in the Americas, this is — or should be — sacred ground.

All across the Caribbean and South America, African escapees built palenques, sometimes clashing with indigenous peoples trying to protect their lands from these strange newcomers, as well as the European plantation owners who wanted their “property” back.

“FERAL ANIMALS”
They fell back on the knowledge of foods and medicinal plants they had brought with them from the Mother Continent. They kept alive their music, dance, religion, languages. They even raided European plantations for supplies, weapons — and more escapees.

Collectively, the Spanish labelled them maroons. Supposedly, the word derives from the Spanish word “cimarron”, meaning feral animal, fugitive, runaway. Or “outlyers.”

None had more success than in Haiti, where a force of free African rebels went toe-to-toe with the cream of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army and overthrew slavery altogether. But throughout Latin America, including Haiti, the maroons paid a high price for their defiance. Brutally attacked and suppressed in the past, discriminated against up to the present.

Add to that the need to migrate to big cities in search of jobs and you understand why San Basilio de Palenque is the only community of its kind left in the 21st century.

Still, the maroons themselves endure, and you can find them scattered across the Americas.

San Basilio de Palenque

They may speak Spanish in Mexico, Uruguay and Colombia, in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. They may speak Dutch in St. Maarten and Suriname or French in St. Martin, Haiti and Martinique, English in Belize and Trinidad.

Over time, some blended their native African languages with European tongues to create new languages spoken only by them.

Across the centuries, though, they all spoke a common language of resistance. For them, culture became a survival tool, a way of saying to the world, “This is who we are, and who we will remain.”

MANY BLACK AMERICAS
In Martinique, you can hear that pride and independence in the music of traditional artists like Sully Cally, who makes his own drums in the capital Fort-de-France with native woods he collects himself.

It may take the form of religion, santeria rituals in Cuba or in the practice of candomblé in Brazil, which has eclipsed Catholicism as Brazil’s most popular faith. In the conduct of weddings and funerals and births. Or in any of dozens of festivals across the Americas with their origins rooted on both sides of the Atlantic.

When you look at all that, you realize that there are many Black Americas, not just ours here in the United States.

Throw in great tropical climate, incredible natural beauty, food, music, beaches, nightlife and a lot of Latin American countries make great destinations. And slowly but surely, Latin America is catching on to that.

After centuries of persecuting maroons and their descendants, nations are starting to actively promote maroon-based tourism.

If Afro-Latin culture has a capital, it might be Salvador, the capital city of Bahia state in northeastern Brazil, where 80 percent of the population is of African descent.

“PIECES”
For 300 years, Portuguese slavery in Brazil was both huge and brutal. The Portuguese referred to Africans as peças. Pieces. It doesn’t take long to get the picture.

Today, the Bahia state government is marketing African heritage tourism to the world. State officials even speak of promoting it as a form of — wait for it — reparations. Says Bahia state governor Jaques Wagner:

“We are aware that our debt to Bahian people of African descent is still great. Yet with faith, courage and determination, we will build a Bahia that is even more diverse, more just and more human.”

Time will tell how serious they are about the reparations bit, but Bahia state already has put out the welcome for visitors wanting to get a first-hand look at its Afro-Brazilian culture.

Put it all together and you’ve got new reasons to explore Latin American destinations to which you might not have given a second thought in the past. . For culturally conscious African-American travelers, maroon may well be the new black.

Greg Gross is the Publisher/Sr. Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel!,” and the owner of the Trips by Greg travel agency, specializing in cultural and heritage travel worldwide.

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Grownup playdate in Playa del Carmen!

The Christmas holidays are over. The kids are back in school. It’s time for the grownups to kick back and turn up.

IBIT is teaming up with Cap’n Paul Mixon, founder of the Black Boaters Summit, to put together a week–long winter escape for singles and couples age 50 and up, Jan. 23–30, 2016 in Playa del Carmen.

You’ll be staying at the Aventura Mexicana, an award-winning hotel and restaurant just two blocks from the beaches. It’s TripAdvisor’s top–rated hotel in Playa del Carmen. See for yourself… and then check out their rooms here.

Among its really cool features is that is comes with two pools and lounge areas — one kid–friendly zone for families, and one that’s strictly Adults Only.

But the best part just might be the price. One week at Aventura Mexicana in Playa del Carmen, starting at $700 per person. Airfare not included.

To register, click here.

Your deposit — $345 for a deluxe King or deluxe Double Queen room, or $385.25 for a Junior Suite — instantly reserves your room. When you’re ready to book, log onto the Aventura Mexicana website and check out their rooms. (WARNING: The no-view rooms are noisy at night from all the partying going on — but you weren’t planning to sleep all night anyway, right?).

When you’re ready to book, fill out this form. Be sure to use the promo code HONEY.

Getting there is easy, too: Just fly into Cancun, the gateway to the Riviera Maya. From there, ground transportation is readily available. Round-trips flights from most major US airports are about $400 or less. You can book your flights yourself, or we can handle that for you — and your ground transfers, too.

For more information, send an email to IBIT or to Cap’n Paul. And watch for more posts here on IBIT about this great winter getaway!

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The Riviera Maya: Chill without freezing

Gorgeous tropical scenery. White–sand beaches and clear, warm waters begging for swimmers and snorkelers. Mysterious ancient ruins. Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the ideal place for a grownup winter getaway.

Some folks actually love urban winters. Dressing in multiple layers of clothes every morning until they look like the Michelin Man in the Hood. Being able to see their neighbors’ breath from a block away. Navigating roads and sidewalks slick with ice.

And who needs the gym when you can work on your cardio every morning, just by shoveling a path from your front door to the outside world, right?

No?

Well, if frostbite is not your idea of a good time, consider taking a break from Old Man Winter’s grip. You might not be able to escape his grasp for the whole season, but you can slip away for a few days when he’s not looking.

One great place to do that is Mexico’s Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula, which sticks out like an upraised thumb from the Mexican mainland, jutting into the Gulf of Mexico. Think tropical breezes. White–sand beaches. Clear, snorkel-ready waters. And not a snow shovel in sight.

These are the welcoming conditions that helped turn Cancun from a sleepy little fishing village into a world-class resort city. But Cancun is not the only game in the Yucatan.

One very popular alternative to crowded and pricey Cancun lies just to the south in Playa del Carmen. In English, Carmen’s Beach. The same white sand. The same comforting climate and welcoming waters of the Gulf. Great restos, bars and nightlife, just like Cancun.

Only not as big, not as crowded and not as pricey.

WHO WERE THE MAYA?
The Riviera Maya gets its name from the Mayan people, whose empire was centered in Guatemala, but extended from Yucatan south to cover most of Central America. They were great architects, mathematicians, farmers, potters. These were the people who created the famed Mayan calendar.

From 1800BC to about 800AD, the Mayans had it going on in Central America. Then, they abruptly started abandoning their great cities and disappeared into the rainforest.

To this day, no one knows exactly why.

If you want to get an idea of what they so suddenly left behind, the Mayan ruins at Tulum are right on the coast, about 48 miles south of Playa del Carmen, easily reached by bus, taxi or rental car.

It’s not all about that beach life, either. If stalking bargains is your thing, Playa del Carmen has its own 5th Avenue. Lots of shops and boutiques to go along with the eateries and the watering holes.

All this, and no frozen sidewalks.

You can’t fly directly into Playa del Carmen from the United States, but you have a couple of options to get there. The most common is to fly into Cancun, then take ground transportation or your own rental car for an easy hour-long drive south along the Gulf coast to Playa.

Flight times to Cancun are a shade over four hours non–stop from New York City, a little under four hours from Chicago and about three hours and change from Washington DC.

If the “morning fog that chills the air” has you thinking about leaving your heart in San Francisco, but warming your bones elsewhere for a few days, your flight to Cancun will take between eight and 11 hours, but you have the added potential benefit of a day or two layover in Mexico City, one of the world’s great capitals.

If you’d rather not drive from Cancun, you could always fly instead to the island of Cozumel, a popular cruise ship port, and take a ferry over to Playa del Carmen. The crossing takes about 45 minutes or slightly less, and depending on which ferry company you choose, leave every hour to every 30 from 5:30AM to 11PM.

A swing south into the Riviera Maya could be just the thing to boost your morale to keep you going until spring. And if Old Man Winter asks where you went, I’m not telling.

The Christmas holidays are over. The kids are back in school. It’s time for the grownups to kick back and have an adult playdate.

IBIT is teaming up with Cap’n Paul Mixon, founder of the Black Boaters Summit, to put together a week–long winter escape for singles and couples age 50 and up, Jan. 23–30, 2016 in Playa del Carmen.

You’ll be staying at the Aventura Mexicana, an award-winning hotel and restaurant just two blocks from the beaches. It’s TripAdvisor’s top–rated hotel in Playa del Carmen. See for yourself.

Among its really cool features is that is comes with two pools and lounge areas — one kid–friendly zone for families, and one that’s strictly Adults Only.

But the best part just might be the price. One week at Aventura Mexicana in Playa del Carmen, starting at $700 per person. Airfare not included.

To register, click here.

Your deposit — $345 for a deluxe King or deluxe Double Queen room, or $385.25 for a Junior Suite — instantly reserves your room. When you’re ready to book, log onto the Aventura Mexicana website and check out their rooms. (WARNING: The no-view rooms are noisy at night from all the partying going on — but you weren’t planning to sleep all night anyway, right?).

When you’re ready to book, fill out this form. Be sure to use the promo code HONEY.

You have until Oct. 31 to register and lock in these incredible rates before the price goes up. There are 40 rooms available for this trip — and at these prices, they won’t be around long.

Getting there is easy, too: Just fly into Cancun, the gateway to the Riviera Maya. From there, ground transportation is readily available. Round-trips flights from most major US airports are about $400 or less. You can book your flights yourself, or we can handle that for you — and your ground transfers, too.

For more information, send an email to IBIT or to Cap’n Paul. And watch for more posts here on IBIT about this great winter getaway!

Greg Gross is Publisher/Senior Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel! and owner of Trips by Greg LLC, a travel agency specializing in cultural travel and tours.

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CUBA: Coming with a rush

Band playing traditional music in Old Havana

Like the objects in your car’s rear-view mirror, unfettered American travel to Cuba may be closer than it appears.

Despite the formal resumption of relations last week between the United States and Cuba — and the easing of US travel restrictions to the island even before that — the US trade embargo that has hampered the ability of Americans to visit Cuba for more than half a century remains in place.

Further, political conservatives have promised an uncompromising fight to keep it in place.

However, within both government and the US travel industry, events are moving so fast now that the embargo may become a non-factor, and sooner than anyone expected.

First came reports in mainstream media that President Barack Obama plans to use his executive authority to unilaterally make it easier for Americans to visit Cuba in two crucial ways.

For the first time since the embargo was implemented in 1961, Americans would be free to visit Cuba as individuals instead of being required to join tour groups.

And talks are already underway between US and Cuban aviation officials to allow regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries, something that currently happens now only on a limited basis between Havana and Miami.

Meanwhile, word comes now that American Airlines that it will begin offering charter flights to Havana from Los Angeles as early as December.

For West Coast travelers with a desire to visit Cuba, this is huge. Never mind no longer having to slip into Cuba illegally after first flying all the way to Toronto, Mexico City or Cancun. Now, you no longer have to fly first to Miami.

From here, it looks very much as if the rush to bring full-on mass-market US tourism to Cuba — and yes, it definitely is a rush — is building up the force and velocity of a tidal wave, an avalanche, a hurricane. Spinning. Roaring. Irresistible.

If you’re one of those Americans who’s been dreaming for years or even decades of being able to freely visit this fascinating country and its people, get your passport ready. It looks as if it’s going to happen, and maybe a lot sooner than anyone expected.

Greg Gross is the publisher/senior editor of “I’m Black and I Travel!,” and owner of the Trips by Greg LLC travel agency.

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Save your trip from smog

Smoggy rider cropped

A customized itinerary can do a lot more than make you feel pampered when you travel. It also can safeguard your health.

When you set out to see the world, family, friends and travel writers are quick to warn you about the hazards. Strange foods. Overpriced tourist traps. Maniacal taxi drivers. Pickpockets and con artists.

The air?

In some of the world’s most famed and fascinating urban destinations, breathing truly can be hazardous to your health.

I was talking with a new member of my Trips by Greg team about group tours to India for 2016. The challenge now, he said, would be to expose visitors to the country’s impressive sights — without exposing them to its horrendous smog.

Come on, I said. Delhi’s air pollution can’t be as bad as that of Beijing, can it? His reply:

“It’s worse.”

He’s right. The World Health Organization says the air in Delhi has the planet’s highest concentrations of PM2.5, ultra-fine particles too small for the eye to see, that can play havoc with your heart and lungs.

Spend enough time breathing this stuff and you won’t have to worry anymore about what smoking can do to you.

Too often around the world, the rush to industrialize overwhelms the ability — and even the will — of governments to rein in the polluters. But this problem isn’t limited to developing nations.

In Paris this spring, the smog was so bad that city officials ordered half the cars off the roads for a day and let people use public transit for free. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is now on a jihad to permanently ban diesel-powered cars by 2020.

In London, where auto exhaust fumes regularly enter into an unholy alliance with dust all the way from the Sahara, concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the air are the highest in Europe — and higher than Beijing, which is famous for it.

What’s a health-conscious traveler to do?

This is where bespoke travel enters the picture.

Simply put, bespoke travel is any travel with a customized itinerary, one tailored to the needs and wishes of a specific client. The word itself comes from the tailor’s shop: It means made-to-order.

It’s usually associated with luxury travel and upscale travelers. Typically, it’s also a bit more expensive than pre-planned “canned” tours. But if you’re trying to see the world — without having to deal with ugly, unhealthful air — made-to-order travel is just what you should be looking for.

A savvy tour operator or travel agent can build an individualized itinerary that can expose you to the sights, the local culture, the local flavor, while keeping your exposure to the hazards of environmental pollution to a minimum.

One result is that you may not spend nearly as much time in the big cities. You may find yourself instead out in the suburbs or the countryside, far enough from the choking industrial skies, but deep in the heart of the country you can to see and the people you came to meet.

This often has the fringe benefit of placing you in some of the most beautiful settings on Earth.

Bespoke travel can do that for you. Not every tour operator can, however. You need one with expert local knowledge who also is willing to go the extra mile on behalf of a client.

Or you need a travel agent who knows where and how to find one.

Greg Gross is the Publisher/Sr. Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel!,” and the owner of Trips by Greg travel agency.

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AIRLINES: Fall fares falling?

There are forecasts for (slightly) lower airfares this coming fall. I’ll believe it when I see it. But be ready to book, anyway.

One of the writers in the travel industry for whom I have a lot of respect is consumer affairs expert Christopher Elliott. So when Chris says airfares could reach record lows this fall, I pay attention.

Knowing the airlines as we know them, I may be more than a little skeptical about that, but I still pay attention. And you should, too.

The factors behind his forecast are reasonable enough.

First, there’s the usual post-summer falloff in passenger traffic, what travel agents call the “shoulder season” — after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving. Families have wrapped up their summer vacations and the kids are back in school.

Then, there’s the matter of fuel. For once, it’s cheaper. With crude oil prices low and getting lower, the cost of jet fuel has been steadily dropping for the last couple of years.

With jet engines being the inherent gas guzzlers that they are, and airlines steadily replacing older aircraft with newer models sporting more fuel-efficient engines, that’s big.

To those points, now add the one that no one saw coming — a suspicious US Justice Department.

DOJ is investigating the possibility that airlines have colluded to take planes out of service to reduce the total number of available seats — and this artificially keep airfares higher.

Airlines taking older aircraft out of service has been a common occurrence over the last few years. but to the consumer, it just looked as if this was a step being taken by each airline to cut operating costs and keep fares where they are.

Apparently, someone at Justice thinks there’s more to it, specifically that airlines may have quietly conspired to send perfectly good airplanes to the “boneyard” to drive up prices.

Clearly, this is not the time to annoy Washington with higher shoulder-season fares.

So Chris definitely has logic and reason on his side in predicting a drop in airfares this fall.

Why then would IBIT be skeptical?

The airfares we’re talking about here are not total fares, only base fares, the bare minimum you can possibly pay for a flight.

And you already know that US airlines have spent the last five years piling on special fees to all but guarantee that you have to pay more than that.

The airlines made more than $3.5 billion last year in add-on fees alone. If they were serious about lowering your travel costs, they’d be reducing the cost of their add-on fees or even abolishing some of them.

Donald Trump has a better chance of being invited down to Mexico by Chapo Guzman for dinner and drinks.

The airlines will tell you, with some validity, that their expenses and overhead are such that they actually make very little in the way of a profit per flight — and that’s presuming the plane is full.

All of which leads me to believe that expected drop in fall airfares isn’t going to amount to very much in the end.

Still, if your schedule permits shoulder-season travel and Chris Elliott’s predicted price drop happens as expected, you might want to keep your credit card handy.

If you haven’t already done so, you also might want to register on an air travel Web site that will send you email or text message alerts when airfares to your chosen destination reaches a certain price. Three of the better ones are Kayak, Yapta and Airfarewatchdog.

Greg Gross is Publisher/Senior Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel! and owner of Trips by Greg LLC, a travel agency specializing in cultural travel and tours.

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"Never give a day away." –Camel