A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media
COOL SAVINGS IN the NOLA
When it comes to travel, summer is the best of times and the worst of times for New Orleans.
A typical summer weather forecast calls for 99 degrees with 99 percent humidity, which will make it feel more like 109 — and you can just about set your watch by the pounding afternoon rain.
That’s the worst.
It seems to work some special hardships on the restaurant business in the NOLA, as this msnbc story points out.
But those same conditions that send rivers of sweat pouring down your face can bring tears of joy to the dedicated bargain hunter, because summer is when New Orleans starts lowering prices at hotels and restos.
The msnbc story makes mention of this, and a quick check of your favorite travel sites (you do have more than one, of course…right?) will lead you to still more bargains.
Meanwhile, how do you handle all that heat and humidity? Stay in the shade. Stay by the water, be it Lake Pontchartrain or the Mississippi River. Dress in cool, light colors.
And always keep some change handy for a big snowball, an ice-cold local soft drink — or an even colder hard one, like a frozen daiquiri.
You will survive, and your travel budget will thrive.
And as long as you’re there, you might as well check one of these daytrips, courtesy of CheapoAir.
PLANES v. TRAINS
A travel story in USA Today compares air travel against train travel for comfort, the check-in process, luggage and food.
The author tries to make it sound like it’s a contest. Those of you who’ve traveled on both already know:
It isn’t. It just isn’t.
At this point, the only thing the airlines really have going for them is speed over long distance — and the fact that American trains are literally a half-century behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to speed.
For anything short of a transcontinental trip, trains are easier, more convenient, more comfortable — and you don’t feel as if you’ve been abused with fuel surcharges and other add-on fees.
Train stations are even easier to use, more fun and classier than most airports. Often, they’re more beautiful than airports, as this BBC Travel slideshow suggests.
And you can enjoy the best ones, like New York’s Grand Central Terminal or Washington DC’s Union Station, without even taking a trip.
Trains v. planes? It’s not even close.
And speaking of trains, Europe’s advanced network of high-speed trains and frequent local trains make getting around the continent almost sinfully easy.
Sooner or later, however, one question always comes up when you’re planning a European rail vacation:
“Should I get the Eurailpass or just buy point-to-point tickets for each leg of the trip?”
I’ve struggled with this more than a few times myself, believe me. The closest I could come to a definitive answer is: It depends on your budget and your itinerary.
Which basically is that the folks at Lonely Planet tell you. Only in much more clarity and detail, and with all your options neatly broken down.
And now, here’s this week’s Digest:
TSA fires 28 employees in Hawaii for failing to screen luggage for explosives. Let’s see: They’ll feel up women and search babies in their diapers, but can’t be bothered checking the BAGS? Oh, okay…
Meanwhle, TSA creates the first express security line in Pittsburgh’s airport.
from Good Transportation
Three brothers are walking the route of California’s proposed high-speed passenger rail, from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Your hotel safe may not be all that safe.
from Mallory on Travel
Travel insurance, yes or no? Iain Mallory breaks it down.
from The Urbane Urbanite
How to wine and dine during a power outage. If you live in hurricane country, tornado country — or anywhere within range of an Arizona electrical worker doing maintenance — you need this info!
from USA Today
How to pick your perfect cruise.
from The New Vision (Uganda) via allAfrica.com
Northern Uganda ready to replace armies of insurgents with armies of tourists.
from The Independent (Rwanda) via allAfrica.com
Another sign of Rwanda’s emergence as a serious travel destination: Marriott is building a 254-room, $55 million hotel in the capital city of Kigali.
from the Daily Nation (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
Fore…Africa! Plans announced to build a five-star hotel in Kenya’s capital city, Mombasa. The motivation: to encourage the growth of golf tourism in the country.
from the Matador Network
Nine — count ‘em — cool and safe places to visit in Mexico.
from the Wall Street Journal via Zagat
Attention, foodies: Peruvian cuisine looks like it just might be the NBT — the Next Big Thing. Next stop, Lima? Road trip!
from the New York Times
Suriname — the most captivating South American destination you never heard of.
from the New York Times
The NYT’s Michelle Higgins says the folks who treat Quito, the capital of Ecuador, as just a jumping off point for the Galapagos Islands are missing something worthwhile.
from Canada’s Adventure Couple
Cool things to do in Malaysian Borneo.
from Velvet Escape
World traveler Keith Jenkins examines the other Thailand, the one all the tourist hordes haven’t ruined yet. Large. Poor. Beautiful. Endearing. Welcome to Isaan.
from The Guardian
Broome, western Australia. Once, this was where you came to find pearls. Now, Broome is the pearl. The part of the story that deals with Australia’s aborigines, as usual, is anything but pretty.
from The Daily Mail (London UK)
London hotels have the worst reputation in Europe? There’s a British-based travel site that says yes. Jolly good…NOT!
from Bonjour Paris
The only thing I like more than farmers markets are farmers markets in Paris, and the 7th arrondissement has one of the best. Even if you don’t have access to a kitchen, it’s worth a visit.
from eTurbo News
Portugal is making a comeback as a European travel destination.
A list of secret spots in Paris, compiled by a small group of former Parisians and mapped.