A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media
THE DOG DAYS OF TRAVEL?
The travel industry has conditioned us Americans to view the Labor Day weekend as the official end of the summer travel season. The folks at Lonely Planet would like to offer a dissenting view.
September, you see, is the start of the “shoulder season,” which just might be the traveler’s best friend. Lots of attractions, smaller crowds, lower prices at hotels, restaurants and the like.
The way they see it, in fact, September may be the best month of the entire year to get your travel on, worldwide.
For a region-by-region LP breakdown of the factors that make September a month to give your suitcase a workout, click here.
THE NORTHERN ROUTE
Back in the day, a little-known way of saving money on flights from North America to Europe was to go via national flag carriers from the northern reaches of the mid-Atlantic. The principal vehicle for this was Icelandair, the national airline of Iceland.
According to the Godfather of Travel, Arthur Frommer, this gambit still works today, but via a different airline.
The best way to save on airfares these days from the States to Europe, he says, to is to begin your journey in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, via the national Finnish airline, Finnair.
You may need to do a stopover in Helsinki to complete your onward journey, bt that’s not necessarily a disadvantage. If anything, it has the added benefit of introducing you to an intriguing part of Europe often overlooked by Americans.
For more details on this northern air route to European air bargains, click here.
WANT TO RAISE YOUR VOICE?
According to msnbc, recently concluded meeting of heavyweight policymakers in airport security, immigration and border control came to a conclusion that should not have required a meeting to reach:
When you travel, the quality of your experience matters.
I can hear your teeth gnashing already as you recall your most recent exercise in traveler’s frustration. I myself would love to have had the chance to introduce them to the blue-uniformed stone-faced Sphinx I recently encountered at the San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.
But I’d much rather hear from you.
What changes in immigration and customs procedures would you most like to see that would make for a better travel experience?
I’ll be collecting your thoughts, suggestions and ideas until Sept. 30. The best answers will be featured here on IBIT, and also compiled into a report which I will send personally those same policymakers.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
And finally, no need to remind you what day this is, or what happened ten years ago.
9/11. The Twin Towers. Al Qaeda. All of that.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about how the world changed on that day. In a decade of traveling since then, I found the world generally to be the same mix of good and evil that it’s always been.
In that same time, I’ve watched us use our newfound fears to justify old-school discrimination and prejudice against anyone perceived as “different.” Seen us frisk little girls and search babies in their diapers at airports, decide that torturing people was okay.
The world didn’t change on 9/11. We did. Mostly for the worse.
So I’m thinking this is a good day to think about who we want to be as a nation. Because in truth, America is the world’s greatest ongoing experiment in nation-building — and the experiment is far from finished.
Those who died on this day weren’t soldiers fighting for a cause. They were largely regular folks like the rest of us — all races, and all religions, just trying to make it.
The best way we can honor them, I think, would be to live our own lives the best we can, treat one another the best we can, and try in our own lives to uphold all those high-sounding values we so often proclaim to the world.
Ultimately, history will judge us not on whether we remember what happened ten years ago today, but on what we do with the memory.
And now, here’s this week’s Digest:
from USA Today
United Air Lines says it’s committed to maintaining its Denver hub. The size of that hub, however, is shrinking. That means fewer flights to and from the Mile High City.
from the Associated Press via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
On the other hand, is the rush to automate airline cockpits eroding the stick-and-rudder flying skills of airline pilots?
from Agence France Presse via France 24
Recession? Terrorism? Who cares? According to the UN’s World Tourism Organuization, international travel for the first half of 2011 is up nearly 5 percent, with South America and sub-Saharan Africa leading the way.
from the New York Times
For the last few years, some small but tech-savvy car-sharing services like Zipcar have been quietly taking a bite out of the rental car business. Now the big boys are firing back, and it’s the biggest of them all that’s leading the charge.
from The Economist (London UK)
Where are the world’s ten most liveable cities? According to The Economist, four are in Australia and a fifth is in New Zealand. Of the rest, three are in Canada and two in Europe. The United States? Dont ask.
from Atlas Cruises and Tours
Is there really such a thing as free activities aboard a cruise ship? Not only is the answer “yes,” but the list is varies, and rather long.
from the Daily Champion (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
Kenya Airways is out to become Africa’s air connection to the rest of the world, with Nairobi as its hub. To that end, they’re looking to double the size of aircraft their fleet within five years.
from the News Junky Journal
According to South African research, African tourism grew by more than 10 percent in the first five months of this year. Leading the charge were Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana and Botswana.
from the Times of Oman
Kenya reaches out to — and into — wealthy Oman is search of tourists.
from BBC Travel
Prohibition my be just a memory, but the underground drinking culture it inspired via the speakeasy still lives — in Philadephia.
from the San Francisco Chronicle
Lots of tourists fly over or cruise past Hawaii’s active volcanoes. Not many get a look at one from the inside. But you can.
from NHK World (Japan)
All but forgotten amid the global 9/11 hype, Japan pauses to mark the six-month anniversary of its devastating earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster.
There may be more than one Great Wall of China.
from The Guardian (London UK)
Would you take a kayak out into the ocean at night, just to look at the stars? You might if you were in New Zealand.
from Rick Steves via the Huffington Post
You’re in Paris for the first time, finally, and the Eiffel Tower is high on your list, even if it’s just to get it out of the way. You can wait in the long high-season lines with everyone else, or you can follow Rick’s advice here.
from Ma View Francaise/My French Life
An expat offers up a decidedly unromantic view of life in the City of Light. Prepare to have a few bubbles burst (or not).
from Nomadic Matt
One of my buds in the travel blogosphere recounts his experiences traveling through Ukraine.
from the New York Times
Catalonia — hiking in the shadow of Spanish volcanoes.