I recently saw an ad on the Internet inviting me to sign up for a United Airlines credit card affiliated with Chase bank. The come on? Up to 40,000 bonus miles. But it turns out that number isn’t set in cement.
On the same day, I opened my mail to find an offer to apply for that same card. The come on? Up to 60,000 bonus miles.
The quick lesson: Shop around for bonus miles if you’re going to apply for an airline-affiliated credit card.
And read the tiny print. For example, one of the advertised benefits of the United card is that you and a companion don’t have to pay for your first checked bag if the reservations are made together. That’s not unlike other offers from cards offered by other airlines.
But—and this is a big “but”—in the case of, say, the Delta American Express card just having the card entitles you to free checked luggage. In the case of United, however, you must pay for your airline ticket with the United card to avoid paying for checking a bag.
That can be difficult if your ticket is being purchased by someone else, such as your company. I’m disappointed that United and Chase for adding that detail in small type at the bottom of their offers.
Want to know what really irritates people about other people at beaches and pools?
TripAdvisor surveyed 1,400 U.S. travelers and asked whether they thought their fellow sun worshippers violated common rules of courtesy.
Last year, 74% of people asked said, “Yes.” This year that number jumped to 83%, perhaps because it’s already been a long, hot summer in many parts of America.
The number one gripe of beach goers? People blasting loud music. Leave the boom box at home and take an MP3 player with earbuds.
The second biggest complaint was about people who don’t pick up after their dogs. What can I say? That should be Etiquette 101. In third place, people resent beach chair hogs. Those are inconsiderate folks who throw a towel and a book on a beach chair at a resort or private beach early in the morning and don’t return until mid-afternoon.
The top pool violations are, number one, pool chair hogging and in second place, loud music. Oh, and no one likes people to smoke around them. The weirdest complaint on the list was about people borrowing sunscreen or a stranger asking you to apply their sunscreen.
The world may eventually find a number of reasons to be grateful for the Arab Spring, but the last 17 months of Egypt’s turmoil have taken a toll on one of the country’s biggest attractions for tourists.
With the partial collapse of law and order in Egypt, some of the country’s antiquities have been looted, and thieves are disrupting or destroying archeological digs in search of gold or other precious, easily saleable items.
That’s what I learned recently when I interviewed Dr. Aiden Dodson on my weekend travel radio show. Dr. Dodson is a senior research fellow at the University of Bristol in England. He just updated a trusted guidebook titled The Ancient Egypt Guide, and he’s led tours to Egypt since the downfall of President Mubarak.
According to Dr. Dodson, the lack of police has left some dig sites—especially those in remote locations—largely unprotected.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Egypt. In fact, says Dr. Dodson, this is a great time to go—there are fewer tourists so you’ll see sites in less crowded conditions. And he says he feels safer there than in his hometown. But don’t encourage the bad guys by buying any artifacts without knowing their provenance.
Yesterday I mentioned travel writer Doug Lansky’s web site that invites you to post a photo of the worst piece of travel kitsch you’ve ever bought. It’s called CrapSouvenirs.com, and it’s most amusing. But Doug’s got a bigger beef against destinations that exaggerate when they advertise.
Surely you’ve heard of that hotel that’s only “steps away from the beach.” But when you get there, it turns out it’s about a half-a-mile worth of steps. Or you’ve seen that web site photo of a resort’s expansive hotel pool that turns out to be the size of your bathtub.
Credit wide-angle lenses and clever marketers and photographers for those misleading come-ons. Doug correctly points out a resort or destination shoots itself in the foot by exaggerating. If you get somewhere and there’s no rainbow over the town dock or you don’t see two whales breaching together like some kind of ballet performance, well, you may think a little less of where you are. (Or if you do see such things, you think, “Well, yeah, that’s expected.”)
Check out sites like Oyster.com that delight in pointing out the reality of a place compared to advertisements. Or read guest visitors’ reviews on TripAdvisor.com. Don’t trust every pretty picture you see or believe ever promise you read.
You’ve only got another month to immortalize the worst souvenir you’ve ever bought in a book that will be published and is destined to be the ultimate catalogue of tourist kitsch.
Just go to the web site called CrapSouvenirs.com and post a photo of that tacky snow globe, plastic doll of Prince William, or nail clippers with “I Love London” on them.
This is the brainchild of Doug Lansky, a Stockholm-based travel writer who hails from Minneapolis. He’s the guy who brings you “Sign Spotting,” the weekly newspaper feature that showcases weird signs from all over the world. Lonely Planet has published two of compilations of those signs.
Now Doug wants to memorialize the cheesiest pieces of travel memorabilia, and you’re invited to submit your favorite. Or you can simply browse CrapSouvenirs.com where you’ll find pasta shaped like Berlin’s Brandenburg gate, one of those naked chef aprons, or a University of Wisconsin backscratcher.
The best submission this year, by the way, wins an iPad2. And if your home is embarrassingly devoid of kitsch, there are a few links to stores that can remedy that. After all, wouldn’t your girlfriend love to have a Playboy bunny bottle stopper?
Yeah, I thought so.