By Elaine N. Schoch
The travel world has been a busy one this week. Here are a few stories we wanted to share. Happy (and safe) travels!
Brazil takes aim at sites that promote sex tourism
Brazil is getting ready for the 2014 World Cup by taking on more than 2,000 websites that promote Brazil as a sex tourism destination. According to MSN Travel, in 2011, the Tourism Ministry of Brazil identified 2,169 websites with photos of women in sensual poses and invitations for sexual encounters with minors. Many of the sites were hosted in the United States. Ouch.
The Final Frontier for Travelers – Outer Space
Ashton Kutcher is heading to the final frontier! The actor has just signed on to orbit the Earth on Virgin Galactic, the space program created by Virgin Records mogul Sir Richard Branson. Branson announced the news on his blog: “Our 500th future astronaut customer has just signed up! Even better news is that number 500 is Ashton Kutcher.” The trip to outer space will cost Kutcher $200,000. Kutcher apparently isn’t the only celeb gearing up for a space voyage. British paper The Sun has reported that Beyonce and Jay-Z are planning on making a trip, too.
Bye Bye American Airlines?
Looks like American Airlines is up for sale. According to an article on Smarter Travel ‘US Airways executives are approaching American Airlines creditors with acquisition offers, according to various trade reports. This move is an end run around American’s current managers, who say they don’t want to talk merger or acquisition until they complete the bankruptcy process. Trade sources say that IAG, the holding company for British Airways, would like to acquire American to prevent it from falling into unfavorable hands.’ Regardless, if British Airways purchased AA, ‘U.S. law limits foreign control of any domestic airline to 25 percent (although ownership can go higher).’ That’s still a lot… If you’re an AA traveler, watch your points/status. If there is an acquisition, hopefully you won’t have to deal with issues like United/Continental. Check out Val’s review on the UA/Continental Frequent Flyer policy changes.
Living in Denver I already knew the city was awesome for biking but it was listed as one of the Top 10 Cities for Cycling this week. The news gave me a little shiver of pride. One that’s kicking my butt into the bike store this weekend for a new set of wheels. While Denver made the list, there were nine others who did as well: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul, New York City, Portland, San Francisco, St. Petersburg, Washington, DC. Check out the Cities for Cycling slideshow on ShermansTravel.com.
Traveling with Kids – Why You Should Do It
This article in the Huffington Post came to me at the perfect time. Just last week The Husband and I concocted a plan. One that puts us on the road traveling a least three months at a time starting in two (maybe three) years. I know, why not do it now, mainly our daughter – Princess Two – needs to be in a “home” for a few years since she just joined our family from an orphanage in Russia…but that’s another story or blog… So the Huffington Post article goes on to explain how a world-traveling mom and teacher Nancy Sathre-Vogel, who completed a masters thesis on brain research and how children learn, said travel helps build the connections in the brain that make learning easier. The key to learning, according to Nancy, is growing dentrites, the physical connections within the brain that join cells together and allows messages to whiz from one part of the brain to another.
“As we travel, our kids are always in new and stimulating environments, therefore their brains are always growing dendrites which makes it easier for them to learn anything,” she said. “It appears as though their brains are so stimulated by everything that is going on around them that they just pick stuff up — it seems like it goes in through osmosis.”
Ha! Now I have scientific facts to tell the family members who don’t think taking the kids along is not a good idea. I also enjoyed 9 Life Lessons Children Learn From Travel, a few more reasons why you should pick up and just go.
The Best Credit Cards for Business Travelers
I am all about the points. Three round trip tickets to Russia and a free stay at the Ritz in Moscow are just two examples of how I like to use my credit cards to earn reward points for travel. It does help that The Husband is a bit of a road warrior. With that said, we have taken every opportunity (or thought we had) to maximize his work travels to earn points for our own adventures. Joe Brancatelli did a great write up on The best credit cards for business travelers this week and I’ll be editing The Husbands wallet to get even more points. Essentially, the three banks that dominate the travel-card arena—Chase, American Express, and Citigroup—are not only battling each other, but also competing internally for a larger share of your wallet and a greater percentage of your spending . And they are serving up a battery of compelling enticements: huge “acquisition” bonuses of points and miles; waivers of annual fees, statement credits, airport club privileges, free hotel nights, and much more. According to Brancatelli, the new Chase Sapphire Preferred is the richest, most intriguing travel cards to come along in decades.
“It offers a terrific earnings proposition: double points for all travel spending (even taxi fares) and all dining expenditures. You’ll also receive a 7-percent annual bonus on the points you earn. There’s no foreign exchange fee for overseas transactions and Chase will waive the $95 annual fee for the first year too. But wait, there’s more—an admittedly hoary phrase that Chase’s ubiquitous television advertising nevertheless should repeat, but doesn’t. There’s currently a 50,000-point bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months. What are all of the so-called Ultimate Rewards points good for? Besides the standard array of merchandise, you can transfer them on a 1-to-1 basis to the frequent-travel plans operated by United, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, and InterContinental Hotel’s Priority Club. No card, new or old, offers that much flexibility with your earnings.”
Italy’s Cinque Terre region readies for spring tourists
Ah, the Cinque Terre. One of my favorite places on this planet – so far. Last fall, torrential rains, massive flooding and mudslides, some more than 13 feet high, devastated the five coastal villages nestled in cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea. But this spring they’re back in business, at least according to preliminary reports. The famous “Via dell’Amore” (“Love’s path”) trail is already open – it’s a HARD hike – but others sustained damage and were closed due to safety issues. They should all be back up and running by Easter.
Technology and Travel
I love my iPhone and never leave home without it, let alone travel without it. While there are MILLIONS of apps out there I came across a few great articles this week noting iPhone apps for kids and traveling to Europe. Stay tuned for my review of wine apps and translations apps…
10 Essential Apps for Europe Travel
I could have used Word Lense in Russia. Snap a picture of a sign (or a restaurant menu, bill, etc.), and Word Lens will translate if for you.
Five Top Apps for Traveling With Children
Hello, Etch A Sketch…so fun!
Girl Scout Cookie Wine Pairings
To make Girl Scout cookies truly an adult treat, Kris Margerum, Wine Director at Napa Valley’s inn and Michelin-starred restaurant Auberge du Soleil, has provided wine pairings for each cookie. Check out the slideshow for all your weekend wine and cookie pairings.
On my last venture to the Napa Valley it was a must that I hit as many Mondavi wineries as I could, with only a few days there I wasn’t able to make it to Continuum, Robert Mondavi’s son Tim’s new venture. Time was formerly the winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery before his father sold it to Constellation Brands. The Wall Street Journal’s On Wine blog did an awesome write-up about the family, the winery and the wine this week.
Want more travel and wine news? See also: Travel & Wine News Round-up, March 23