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Do's, don'ts, advice, how-to's

EveryTrail gives user-generated travel content

November 6, 2009

EveryTrail is a global web2.0 platform for geo-tagged user-generated travel content that’s changing the way millions of people share travel experiences and plan trips. EveryTrail makes it easy to share travel experiences, through interactive maps that include photos plotted along your trip route.

EveryTrail is free and useful for a wide variety of trips – including road trips, sight seeing tours, sailing trips, hiking, cycling, flying, hang gliding, geocaching, skiing, kayaking trips and more. EveryTrail has trips from over 80 countries in all corners of the world.



The rich and vibrant EveryTrail community is a great place to connect with others who share similar interests in travel and outdoor activities. When planning your next trip, use EveryTrail to discover where to go and what to do in some of the best places on earth.

American raises fare, others follow

October 15, 2009

While some are touting 2010 as the “Year of the Travel Deal,” the truth may be a bit more complicated than that. While suffering hoteliers will decrease hotel rates and create more package deals, airlines are still finding new ways to create revenue.

American Airlines raised fares $6 to $16 Monday and five other carriers followed suit. The five so far: Continental, Delta, United, US Airways and bargain Southwest airlines. Southwest, which had resisted the $10 holiday surcharge placed on many flights, seems to have had a change of heart. Or maybe it realized that it was ignoring an untapped revenue stream? Southwest said that its fee would actually be $4 to $10 round-trip.

Either way, most airlines were operating in the red last quarter and they don’t intend on staying that way. In fact, the third quarter of 2009 should be most known for the creative ways (read fees) airlines came up with cash.

Three airlines came out with a profit in the third quarter, JetBlue, Alaska and AirTran. So far none have joined the six carriers in raising fares. However, AirTran joined in on the $10 holiday surcharge from Thanksgiving to Memorial Day.

[Source: BNet]

Pre-pay your baggage fees on United for a fee

October 6, 2009

United has just announced a program where you can pay $250 to have their normal checked baggage fees waived for a year. The plan covers 2 bags per passenger, up to 8 passengers “traveling under the same confirmation number.” Current fees are $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second, so if you travel solo a lot and always carry two bags you’ll have to make six trips before you enjoy any savings.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a big family trip planned in the next year, this may be a way to shave a little off the fee gouging. But only a little.

When you purchase the Premier Baggage option, your annual subscription will be associated with your Mileage Plus® account. Simply provide your Mileage Plus number each time you make a United reservation, and you’ll automatically receive your Premier Baggage benefits.

Premier Baggage can also be purchased for a friend or family member. It makes a great gift for any frequent flyer.

*The purchase of a Premier Baggage annual subscription does not waive fees that would ordinarily be assessed for oversized and overweight bags and does not cover the cost of checking more than two standard bags.

[Sources: and Consumerist]

British Airways to charge for early seat choice

September 25, 2009

We have heard of European airlines charging fees for just about anything! The latest in charging fees for booking a seat in advance is British Airways. The airline says it will allow passengers to choose seats up to 355 days before flying — for a fee.

Charges will range from £10 ($16) per passenger for an economy class flight within Europe, £20 for a long-haul economy seat or £50 for an exit row seat.

Business-class passengers will be charged £20 for a short-haul flight and £60 for a long-haul flight.

Passengers now can choose a seat only in the 24 hours before departure, at no charge. The new policy is effective from October 7.

[Source: NYTimes]

Photos: Konkan, Maharashtra

September 25, 2009
Konkan, Maharashtra

Konkan, Maharashtra

Click here to see the photos

American to charge $50 for second bag on international routes

September 17, 2009

Flying is all set to get more expensive with the concept of pay for check-in baggage this week. One of US’ biggest carriers, American Airlines, has from Monday discontinued the earlier practice of allowing economy passengers to check in two bags of up to 50 lbs (23 kgs) each for no charge. The airline will now charge $50 for the second bag and $150 for the third one, said the airline’s call centre in India.

American’s website said: “Customers purchasing economy class tickets on or after September 14 for travel between some countries and US …. may check one bag for no charge and the second bag for $50.” The airline’s call centre said the first bag allowed to be cheked in for free should weigh up to 23 kg. “If that bag is over 23 kg and below 32 kg, a charge of $50 will be for being overweight. Similarly, if the second or third bags also weigh between 23 and 32 kg, then a similar fee of $50 will be levied on each in addition to the additional bag charge of $50 and $150,” said the call centre for economy class passengers.

Foreign carriers, especially US airlines, had earlier this year started levying charge for both internal and international flights. Many even levy a charge of $20-30 for the first check-in bag. LCCs abroad, like Britain’s Ryan Air, also make passengers pay for check-in baggage.

Airlines in India slash rates by 50%

September 15, 2009

If you’re traveling to India or in India now then you are in midst of the ongoing airfare war in India which is heating up with drop in rates by 50%. After the Jet Airways strike is over, all major airlines are offering competitive prices on airfares across the country for 5 days.

Jet Airways executive director Saroj Dutta had announced that the private carrier had suffered a loss of over Rs 200 crore ($40 million) on account of the pilots’ stir since last Tuesday.

Read more: Airfares slashed by 50% for next 3 days [Times of India]

What to pack for backpacking?

September 11, 2009

Are you going on a backpacking adventure and at a loose end as to what to pack? You will need to carry your backpack around for long periods of time and it must contain everything that you will need while you are away that can’t be purchased locally. It is essential to pack as lightly as possible; having a large bulky backpack can weigh you down, especially when boarding buses and trains. It will also tire you out to carry around all day. Read on for a list of handy backpacking items:

The size of backpack you buy really depends on how much you are prepared to lug around with you. If you plan on taking only the bare essentials, you could get away with a 35 litre backpack. But on average a 50 litre one might be a better choice, especially as it will leave some room for any souvenirs collected on the way.

Sleeping Bag/Sheet
A good sleeping bag or sleeping sheet is essential. One of the modern ones that can be rolled up very small is best. At many hostels you will be charged for sheets/blankets and they may be in a dubious state of cleanliness.

First Aid
Check the contents carefully and consider customising rather than bringing items that you are very unlikely to use. Plasters come in very handy for small cuts and blisters if you plan on doing lots of walking. If you are taking prescribed medicine check for any restrictions on taking them through customs, and check that you can obtain replacements at your destination.

Travel Towel
There are some really good travel towels on the market which are lightweight, take up a lot less space and are designed to dry quickly, which is great for travelling! However you may want to squeeze a bigger towel into your backpack to laze around on the beach.

Plug Adaptors
If you are taking electrical items like your MP3 player or phone charger, you can buy a good travel plug adaptor at most supermarkets and specialist travel stores. Many hostels and fellow travellers have them to borrow so consider if it is worth packing if you will only use it occasionally!

Mosquito Repellent/Nets
Mosquitoes may be annoying, but in malarial areas they are also dangerous. Deet based insect repellents are the most effective and a mosquito net is another important way of protecting yourself against malaria. Check with your doctor before travelling to find out if you need malaria tablets.

Ear Plugs
Getting some sleep when backpacking can be a nightmare if you are staying in hostels with others, on a bus journey or even sleeping out in the open. Ear plugs can make all the difference to you getting a good night’s sleep.

A must have item for your backpack! Especially handy at night time where there are no lights or in remote areas where electricity is not used. No need to spend a lot of money, any torch will do the job!

Take a couple of padlocks with you. They are ideal for securing your backpack and for hostel/guesthouse lockers to store your valuables – which you may have to supply your own padlock for.

Take a good book to read on the plane or to read while lazing on a tropical beach. Resist the temptation of packing a whole library in your backpack – remember you can swap books with other travellers along the way!

Backpacking Travel Insurance
No matter how light you want to travel, travel insurance for backpacking is the one thing you should definitely take with you. If you arrange your backpacker travel insurance as soon as you book your trip, you will be immediately covered should you need to cancel your plans. Check your backpacker travel insurance cover limits for personal possessions including valuables and single items, and think carefully before taking expensive items with you on your trip (camera, laptops and so on). You should also check that the backpacking travel insurance policy covers you for any activities you plan on doing – like bungee jumping!

ten links for today

September 9, 2009

America’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

How To Use Your Hands in the Middle East

The most beautiful destinations in Europe

Salar de Uyuni, Salt Flats, The World’s Largest Salt Desert

World’s Trendiest Airstream Hotels

Coffee Culture Around the Globe

Ten Most Beautiful Gorges of China

Ten Things Not to Do in New York City

Luxury camping directory

Extreme Workplaces

RyanAir hikes baggage fees

September 4, 2009

The rises, which will come into force in October, come on top of an array of other additional levies imposed by the no-frills airline which range from charging £5 to check in online to £40 for printing out a boarding pass at the airport.

As a result of the increase checking in a bag via the internet will go up from £10 to £15 and at the airport from £20 to £30. It has, however, said that passengers can carry up two bags of 33lbs (15kg) each, before incurring excess baggage charges of £15 a kilogram.

Ryanair defended the charges which, it said, enabled the airline to keep fares low. “These baggage fees are all avoidable by all passengers who choose to travel with carry-on luggage only. Over 70 per cent of Ryanair passengers will be totally unaffected by these changes as they already travel with just one carry-on bag, which is free of charge,” a spokesman said.

It is the latest airline to either increase luggage charges or cut the number of bags passengers can take on board free of charge in recent months.

British Airways and a number of transatlantic carriers recently announced that passengers will only be allowed to put one bag in the hold free of charge, with additional items costing just over £30, with the exact amount varying with each airline.

British Airways has seized on the luggage charges by producing its own fares calculator which, it says, shows that passengers with luggage will often find it cheaper to use BA.

RyanAir Fees:
* Online check-in (print own ticket at home): £5
* Airport check-in (“Airport Boarding Card Re-issue”): £40
* “Payment handling fee”, per passenger, per one-way flight: £5
* Priority boarding fee, per flight: £3
* Infant fee (under-2s): £20 per flight
* 1st piece of hold baggage (max 15kg), checked in at airport: £30 per flight
* 2nd piece of hold baggage (max 15kg): £70 per flight
* Excess baggage fee, per kilo: £15
* Children’s travel/car seat: £10
* Sports equipment, musical instrument: £30 per item, per flight
* Flight change fee: £35 per flight
* Name change: £100 per passenger
* A charge of £1 for the use of on-board toilets is being explored
* A plan to tax heavier passengers was dropped

[Sources: and]

Laptop searches without suspicion at U.S. borders is approved

September 4, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security’s Privacy Office has approved the controversial searches, copying and retention of laptops, PDAs, and other digital devices without cause at U.S. borders.

Travelers could soon start seeing notices from the Privacy Office, which last week released a report supporting the right of customs agents to conduct such searches.

The 51-page Privacy Impact Assessment also supported the right of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to copy, download, retain or seize any content from these devices, or the devices themselves, without assigning any specific reason for doing so.

Also, while in many cases searches would be done with the knowledge of the traveler in some situations, the report says, “it is not practicable for law enforcement reasons to inform the traveler that his electronic device has been searched.”

In arriving at the assessment, the Privacy Office argued that such searches of electronic devices were really no different from searches of briefcases and backpacks. They are needed to interdict and investigate violations of federal law at U.S. borders and have been supported by courts in the past, the assessment said.

That conclusion is sure to rile privacy and civil rights advocates, who have been vehemently protesting such border searches for about two years. They have argued that searches of electronic devices without any reasonable cause are very different from similar searches of backpacks and other items by customs agents, because unlike with briefcases and packs, electronic devices are capable of storing far more data, including personal and business data some that could be highly personal or protected.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives and other groups have warned of potential security breaches when corporate data contained in a laptop or PDA is downloaded by a customs agent as part of a border search. Similar concerns have been raised about data involving client and lawyer privileges, intellectual property, and other sensitive information.

[Source: ComputerWorld]

Gate Tower Building has a drive-through

September 4, 2009

Gate Tower Building is a 16-story office building in Fukushima-ku, Osaka, Japan. And what makes it notable is the highway that passes through the 5th-7th floors of this building. The highway is part of the Hanshin Expressway, a network (239.3 km) of expressways surrounding Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, Japan.

Gate Tower Building

Gate Tower Building (source: Wikipedia)

The Gate Tower Building is Japan’s first building to have a highway pass through it. And it had been nicknamed “beehive” referring to its appearance as a “bustling place”. The Umeda Exit of the Ikeda Route of the Hanshin Expressway system passes through this building. The expressway is the tenant of these floors. The elevator doesn’t stop on floor 5th-7th, floor 4 being followed by floor 8.

Gate Tower Building

Gate Tower Building (source: english.pravda)

Gate Tower Building

Gate Tower Building (source: english.pravda)

These floors consist of elevators, stairways, machinery and other stuff. The highway passes through the building as a bridge, held up by supports next to the building making no contact with the building itself. The building has a double core construction, with a circular cross section and special care is taken by providing surrounded structure to the highway to protect the building from noise and vibration. Generally expressways are built underground, and passing through a building is an extremely rare occasion.

Gate Tower Building (source: Wikipedia)

Umeda exit passes through the Gate Tower Building (source: Wikipedia)

It dates back to 1983, when the redevelopment of this area was decided upon, “building permits were refused because the highway was already being planned to be built over this land. The property rights’ holders refused to give up, and negotiated with the Hanshin Expressway corporation for approximately 5 years to reach the current solution.”

[Source: CrookedBrains]

SkyEurope halts operations

September 1, 2009

SkyEurope, a Slovakia-based low-cost airline that had sought protection from creditors in June, announced Tuesday that it had ceased all operations, effective immediately.

In a message to passengers on its Web site, the airline advised passengers that had purchased tickets with a credit card to seek a refund from their card issuer for all unused portions of their SkyEurope flights. Passengers who bought tickets via other means will most likely not receive refunds, SkyEurope said.

Travelers who are already at their destinations with return flights booked on SkyEurope will have to purchase a one-way ticket on another carrier at their own expense, the airline said.

SkyEurope, which began service in 2002, operated a fleet of a dozen Boeing 737s and served 38 destinations in 19 European countries. It carried nearly 2.9 million passengers in the year to July 31, though in recent months as many as one-quarter of its seats went unsold.

SkyEurope had halted services to and from Vienna’s airport on Aug. 15 after the airline had missed a deadline to pay outstanding debts.

[Source: NYTimes]

Related News:
Thousands stranded as SkyEurope goes under
Airlne collapse strands hundreds

U.S. Airways raises baggage fees by $5

August 26, 2009

US Airways announced a $5 baggage fee increase Wednesday.

The fee for a passenger’s first checked bag will rise from $15 to $20 if the fees are prepaid online. Online payment for a second checked bag will jump from $25 to $30.

An additional $5 fee will be added for bags checked at the airport, bringing the fee for the first bag to $25 and the second to $35.

The airline also will implement a $50 fee for the second checked bag on international flights — $55 if paid at the airport. The first checked bag will continue to be free of charge.

The changes will be applied to tickets purchased on Wednesday or later for travel on or after October 7.

Earlier this season American Airlines raised its fees for first and second checked bags to $20 and $30, respectively.

Continental, Delta and United airlines charge $15 for the first checked bag if the fees are paid online, and $25 for the second bag. At the airport, these airlines charge $20 and $30 for the first and second bags.

Grand Canyon Skywalk is a sham!

August 25, 2009

Note: This post was written in August 2009 so prices and all details are effective at this time and may subject to change. It’s best to contact the Skywalk directly for latest up to date details.

Grand Canyon SkywalkAfter reading good and bad things about the Grand Canyon Skywalk, we wanted to experience the feeling of “walking in air” on this architectural marvel, that was completed in March, 2007 after 2.5 years and 30 million dollars worth of hard work. After reaching there we were shocked for what it was worth and we DO NOT recommend visiting this horse-shoe shaped glass walkway.

The reasons why we call it a sham are:

1. The road leading to the Skywalk has 20 miles of dirt-road which, surprisingly, is not constructed even after 2.5 years of the opening of Skywalk. This can be be extremely difficult to drive if it’s pouring down.

2. Parking at The Skywalk is provided but access to the Skywalk is only permitted by supplied coach buses. The cost of the coach ride is $30, which will take you the Skywalk and two other viewing areas. There is also an additional fee of $45 for being on Hualapai land making the total cost $75 per person.

3. No personal equipment is allowed on the Skywalk and lockers are provided. No photographs may be taken by visitors on the Skywalk! However, up to three photography stations are installed. Photographs taken may be purchased in the gift shop at $29 each.

4. The whole experience of “walking in the air” is impossible because visitors have to walk on a carpet laid on the half-side of the glass floor. Walking on the glass is prohibited which makes it feel like ‘walking on land’! We were told that this was because of the “upcoming” rain, but all we saw was clear skies!

5. The authorities may close the Skywalk on a slight chance of high wind or rain, and visitors who make it up to the Skywalk parking area, after driving through the dirt road, are NOT informed that the Skywalk will be closed and are still issued tickets. Upon reaching the Skywalk, they are informed that they will have to wait until the winds have died down or the rains have stopped. No refunds!

Video of the 14-mile dirt road

One of our readers asked if the skywalk is handicap accessible. This is what their website says:

Wheelchair Accessible: Manual and battery-operated wheelchairs are allowed on Grand Canyon Skywalk using our access ramp.

Wheelchairs Available: Grand Canyon Skywalk provides wheelchairs for temporary use on the Skywalk. No rental fee is charged. Wheelchairs are available when you check-in at the Grand Canyon Skywalk ticket counter.

Customers with disabled parking permits are allowed to bypass the shuttle and drive themselves to the Skywalk and other points of interest within Grand Canyon West.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

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