Posted November 8, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Charge up that phone the night before a trip: Most of us have this straightforward—yet vital—task down pat. But that's not all you need to do before bringing a phone abroad. Here are 10 additional tips that smartphone-wielding travelers should heed before hitting the road, from adding travel apps to guarding against exorbitant roaming charges.
Know Your Plan (and Your Phone)
Step one: Examine your phone. Only GSM and CDMA phones will work abroad. Check with your provider to verify that your phone is operable overseas. Step two: Examine your phone plan. A thorough investigation of your data and calling contract will reveal exactly how much it will cost to make a few phone calls or download some emails while abroad. It's expensive, right? That's where step three comes in: Consider buying an international calling or data package. If you plan on using your device overseas and don't want to swap out your SIM card (more on that later), an international plan is likely a wise investment. Simply call your provider and request a temporary plan that works in your destination of choice; in most cases, you can cancel the plan upon return (just make sure there's no minimum-length-of-time requirement).
One provider in particular, however, doesn't necessitate the purchase of an international package. Earlier this month, T-Mobile announced that it will get rid of roaming charges for data usage in more than 100 countries, and it will cap international calling rates at 20 cents per minute.
Consider a Text Package
One or two text messages from the road might be all you need to use during your trip. You might want to text your family to let them know you've arrived safely, text your pet or house sitter, or send a cheery text from the beach to make a friend jealous. Sound good? Then purchase a text package before you leave. For example, AT&T offers Global Messaging Packages that start at $10 per month for 50 messages sent from more than 150 countries. Messages received are deducted from your domestic plan.
Get the Right Gadgets
From portable batteries to travel-friendly phone cases, a range of gear and add-ons will enhance and protect your phone while abroad. Some of our favorites include the MapiCases leather belt-clip iPhone case; myCharge and New Trent's rechargeable, portable battery packs; and GoSwype microfiber cleaning cloths.
Turn Off Data
If you don't plan on using data while abroad but plan to pack your phone, there are two steps you need to take before departure: Turn off cellular data and turn off data roaming. You'll find instructions for doing so on an iPhone here, and here for an Android phone. Contact your cellular provider for further details on shutting off data. Fail to shut down the automatic downloads that bring emails, program updates, meeting notifications, and other data to your phone and you'll likely see some very expensive roaming charges on your bill at the end of the month.
Stock up on Apps
There are umpteen mobile apps that could prove very valuable on your trip. Ideally, you'll want to snap them up well before your departure date, so that you have time to research, compare prices, and, of course, download the apps before you leave. Some of these might include flight-notification apps, map apps, itinerary apps, language-translation apps, destination-guide apps, gas-finder apps, and weather apps. For more ideas, see Nine Apps That May Change How You Travel and 10 Free Travel Apps You've Never Heard of.
Avoid data charges for big downloads on the road by lining up your music and entertainment purchases before you head out that door. Does your airline offer good in-flight entertainment? If not, a few episodes of your favorite show might make coach class a little more bearable. Will your hotel room have an iPod player? If yes, then a new album or two could enliven your stay. Further, there's little that will improve a long cross-country rail trip or an interminable wait at the airport more than a diverting and fun new playlist.
Pack Chargers and Adapters in Your Carry-on
On the road, chargers and adapters are as important as your phone itself; after a day or two, your device is useless without them. You wouldn't put your iPhone in your checked luggage, right? So your charger and adapter need to go in your personal item or carry-on bag with your other essentials (medicine, wallet, identification, etc.). This way, if your suitcase gets lost, you won't need to pay a visit to one of these airport vending machines to buy a new charger.
Take Some Important Photos
This tip is more about using your phone to prepare for your trip than preparing your phone; nonetheless, it belongs on your to-do list. Prepare a digital backup in case your identification gets lost or stolen. With your camera phone, take a photo of your passport or driver's license, and email the photo to yourself. You might also want to take a photo of the contents of your checked bag, which may come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (Use the photo to help document your missing belongings when filling out a claim form.) Throughout your trip, take advantage of the camera on your phone and snap photos of anything that might serve as a helpful reminder, from your airport parking-lot spot to your hotel-room number.
But first, you need to ensure that you have space on your phone to store such images, which brings us to our next tip.
Check Available Storage
The perfect yet ephemeral travel shot appears: a candy-red sunset or a humpback's tail emerging from the ocean. You aim, shoot … and a message appears on your phone saying that there is no available storage left. You lost the shot! Argh! To prevent this pesky little mishap, check your phone's storage before you leave. On an iPhone, for example, you can do this via the "General" tab within "Settings."
Free up room on your phone by transferring photos and videos to your computer, deleting unused apps, and clearing your Internet cache.
Get a Country-Specific SIM Card
Will you be spending a lot of time in one particular country? A prepaid SIM card for the region you're visiting is an economical choice for overseas phone usage, and it allows you to make calls and use data exactly as many locals do: through a local provider. Switch your SIM card and you'll have a new local phone number and likely an affordable plan that puts scary-expensive international calling packages to shame. You won't be able to make or receive calls via your usual phone number, though.
Here's how to get one: Either pick one up prior to your departure date or get one from a local store after you arrive. We recommend the former, especially for those who don't want to waste precious trip time shopping around for SIM cards. You can order the cards online from companies such as Telestial and Brightroam.
But remember that not all phones will accept new SIM cards. You must have an "unlocked" GSM phone for this to work.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Ways to Prepare Your Cell Phone for a Trip.
Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at at email@example.com.
Posted October 29, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
U.S. national parks are beautiful to begin with. But when the
deciduous trees that blanket so many national parks become aglow with
radiant fall foliage, the spectacle is astounding. You might need to
pack a sweater, but you can snap gorgeous photos, partake in special
activities, and, of course, enjoy the colors of autumn when you plan a
trip this season.
Although fall means fewer crowds (and perhaps the chance to more
easily spot wildlife) in popular parks, the weather can be
unpredictable, and some facilities even close up after the summer
season. Be sure to contact your park for details on what's open and
what's not before planning your trip.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia might be the first place that comes to mind when you think of
fall colors at national parks—the destination attracts thousands of leaf
peepers in autumn, so be prepared for some crowds. But it's totally
worth it—traverse the park's more than 125 miles of hiking trails to
discover amazing views, take a ranger-led bird-watching walk among the
changing leaves, or rent a kayak and take in the scenery from the water.
When to Go: Peak fall colors generally pop up around mid-October. Check the region's leaf status on MaineFoliage.com.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Texas
You might be surprised to learn that the Texas Hill Country is a
prime place for leaf peeping down south. Head to Lyndon B. Johnson
National Historical Park, where you can get a side of American history
with your foliage. The park is home to the LBJ Ranch (also known as the
Texas White House), which is surrounded by wild brush country. Here,
sumacs, oaks, and haw hollies become awash with intense fall hues during
When to Go: You'll likely find the best foliage from mid-October through November.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
This park's famed cave system—more than 400 square miles of explored
underground caverns that make up the world's longest—is the reason most
visitors make the trip. But don't overlook the scenery aboveground.
Forests of oaks, hickories, gum trees, and dogwoods on rolling Kentucky
hills become a mosaic of fall colors this time of year.
When to Go: Check KentuckyTourism.com for updates.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
We love the sweeping views of water and the eyeful of beautiful fall
colors that Sleeping Bear's sky-high dunes afford during this time of
year. Visitors can get even better views from the air: Board a
helicopter or hot-air balloon and view fall foliage on an aerial tour.
When to Go: You'll find peak colors in the region from mid-September through early October. Check Michigan.org's Fall Color Map to see the status of local foliage.
Valley Forge National Historical Park, Pennsylvania
Just a short drive from Philadelphia, Valley Forge is the site where
General Washington and his Continental Army camped during the
Revolutionary War. Here, visitors can learn about life in the 18th
century as well as explore an expanse of lush parkland, including more
than 3,000 acres of grassland, wetland, and deciduous forest, which
become awash with rich colors in autumn.
When to Go: Weekly foliage reports are posted on Pennsylvania's official tourism website.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
There are about 100 native tree species in America's most-visited
national park, most of which turn kaleidoscopic come fall. Changing
leaves are complemented by autumn wildflowers: delicate asters and other
varieties furnish pops of color.
When to Go: Get weekly reports on the state of local foliage on the National Park Service website.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Since Shenandoah's more than 300 square miles of parkland are so
heavily forested, it's a gorgeous place to be when the seasons change.
Look for oak and chestnut trees, which are abundant in the park, as well
as splashes of autumn pigment from sassafras, sumac, and poison ivy.
(Yes, poison ivy leaves change color in the fall. Just don't get too
When to Go: Take a peek at the park's Mountain View Webcam
for a real-time look at the changing leaves. Expect the best colors in
mid-October in more elevated parts of the park and late October to early
November in more low-lying areas.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Fall foliage in this enormous, wild expanse of alpine forests and
Rocky Mountains in Montana is quite the sight. But fall is a wonderful
time to visit if you want to see wildlife, too. The National Park Service website
says that there are fewer people in the park and more animals—including
grizzlies, wolves, and eagles—out and about during autumn.
When to Go: Peak fall colors generally appear at the end of September and beginning of October.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park's jaw-dropping sky-high cliffs provide the perfect
points for seeing miles of mesas and forested land decked out in reds,
oranges, and golds. Climb to the top of Zion's massive sandstone cliffs
to get sweeping bird's-eye views of the autumn scenery.
When to Go: Zion shows its best colors in late October.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia
Peep the leaves in well-tread Harpers Ferry, where 70 percent of the
land is covered with forest. Fun fall activities sweeten the deal:
Visitors can explore living-history museums on Shenandoah Street or make traditional 19th-century tin housewares using period tools.
When to Go: Follow Harpers Ferry on Facebook for the latest foliage updates. According to the page, the leaves are already beginning to change.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Close to Cleveland and hugging the winding Cuyahoga River, this
national park is a Midwestern sanctuary for fall foliage seekers.
There's so much to do: Hike along more than 125 miles of trails, take
part in an EarthCaching
adventure, or go bird-watching (look out for the bald eagles). One of
the most relaxing ways to enjoy the fall colors is to hop onboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which rolls through the park past lush woods, meadows, the Cuyahoga River, and historical small towns.
When to Go: The best colors flourish in mid-October. Check the Fall Color Report for real-time updates.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Wyoming
These parks are so close that they almost touch, and they offer
amazing autumn colors against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains,
waterfalls, forests, and lakes that reflect the changing leaves. Hikes,
horseback rides, and ranger-led treks are fabulous ways to see the
foliage. Or get a bird's-eye view with a hot-air balloon ride or a trip on the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram.
When to Go: Head to Wyoming in September and early October to see the foliage. Read more on the Wyoming Office of Tourism website.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 13 Best National Parks to See in the Fall.
Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted October 24, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
If you suffer from gephyrophobia (fear of bridges), click away now.
From bridges so frightening that people will pay someone else to drive
their car across to bridges that are just plain dangerous, these 10
bridges are the world's scariest. Are you brave enough to make it to the
end of this story?
Trift Bridge, Switzerland
The fearful should visit Trift Bridge in good weather. In windy
conditions, the suspension bridge can sway more than 20 feet. The
560-foot-long bridge rewards brave pedestrians with stunning views of
the Swiss Alps, if they can manage to look around without feeling too
much vertigo! (The Trift Bridge is open from June through October.)
Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Maryland
This bridge, almost five miles long, is so scary that some drivers,
too afraid to make the journey themselves, will pay $25 to have a
stranger drive their car across it. It's no wonder they're so terrified—in recent months, a car has gone over the guardrail, plunging about 40 feet into the water below; a bridge fire has snarled traffic for hours; and winds of almost 40 miles per hour have caused a 10-mile backup.
Even on good days, the bridge's design makes the drive quite
frightening for many travelers, who must drive around a curve, up a
steep incline, and downhill before making it safely across.
Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia
You'll need to take a cable car to the top of this bridge, which is
located at the peak of Gunung Mat Cincang. Langkawi Sky Bridge, at more
than 2,000 feet above sea level, lives up to its name—it is so high up
in the sky that the entire bridge had to be constructed on the ground
and then lifted to the top of the mountain via helicopter. Even scarier,
this bridge is mysteriously closed until further notice, so you'll have to admire it from the ground for now.
Storseisundet Bridge, Norway
The Storseisundet Bridge looks more like a roller coaster than a
road, seemingly dropping off into the sea rather than providing safe
passage. Don't worry, this cantilever bridge's danger is just an optical
illusion—it's actually quite an easy bridge to drive over.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, North Ireland
The easiest (and scariest) way to get from the mainland of Northern
Ireland to the island of Carrickarede is to cross a rope bridge almost
100 feet above jagged rocks. The 66-foot-long bridge can be quite
nerve-wracking, so much so that many pedestrians have had to be taken
off the island by boat, as they were too scared to walk the bridge back
to the mainland.
Capilano Suspension Bridge, Canada
The Capilano Suspension Bridge
is one of the world's longest and highest suspension bridges—and it
sure feels like it when you're swaying 200 feet above the canyon. If
that doesn't scare you, perhaps stories of people who have fallen off will.
Canopy Walk, Ghana
There's just a one-foot-wide plank of wood (and four-foot-high net
walls) standing between you and a 100-foot drop to the forest floor on
the canopy walk in Ghana's Kakum National Park. If you can steel your
nerves enough to make the crossing, you'll get to see the unique plants
and animals that live in that level of the forest.
Aiguille du Midi Bridge, France
To get to this bridge, you'll have to take the world's highest
vertical-ascent cable car up about 9,200 vertical feet. The short
footbridge will give you unbeatable views of the French Alps from more
than 12,000 feet above sea level.
Vitim River Bridge, Siberia
This old railway bridge barely looks wide enough for pedestrians, let
alone cars, but locals drive across it all the time in order to cross
the Vitim River. During the Siberian winter, the bridge becomes even
more challenging as the wood turns into an ice slick that provides no
traction. One wrong move can easily send you plunging 50 feet into the
water—because this bridge has no railings. See for yourself how
terrifying it is to drive over the Vitim River Bridge in this video.
Sidu River Bridge, China
At more than 1,500 feet tall, the Sidu River Bridge is the world's
highest. This suspension bridge is more than 4,000 feet long and
connects Shanghai and Chengdu as part of the new G50 Huyu Expressway, a
long mountainous route.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Terrifying Bridges You Need to See to Believe.
Follow Caroline Morse on Google+ or email her at at email@example.com.
Posted October 19, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Bordello murders, fatal wedding-day accidents, hate-fueled arson
attacks, and other tragedies have left behind unsettled spirits in
historic restaurants and bars across the country. For the spine-chilling
chance to see the resident apparitions and experience their antics, sit
down to a filet mignon in Michigan or hit the slot machines at a Nevada
saloon. Here are some of America's most haunted restaurants and
bars—ones that have given employees, patrons, and even ghost hunters
more than what they ordered.
Mission Table, Traverse City, Michigan
The unhappy ghost of Genevive Stickney, an obese and jealous woman, still frequents her former residence, now Mission Table
restaurant. As the story goes, Genevive and her Chicago lumber-baron
husband built the home in the late 1800s. Succumbing to the excesses of
good food and fruit brandies, the attractive Genevive became quite
stout. She had a special gilt-edged mirror installed that made her
appear thinner than she was, but eventually she became so large that she
needed an elevator to transport her to the second floor. When her
philandering husband took up with a mistress and left the mistress all
his money, Genevive took her own life.
Haunted Encounters: In Genevive's mirror,
restaurant guests have seen the reflection of a woman dressed in
19th-century clothing with hair pulled into a tight bun, the way
Genevive wore hers. Lights turn themselves on and off, objects are
mysteriously hurled through the air at people, hands on the grandfather
clock are moved ahead, and candles are found burning in the morning.
The Brass Rail, Hoboken, New Jersey
A ghost bride is said to haunt the historical Brass Rail
restaurant in downtown Hoboken. Legend has it that on her wedding day
in 1904, she tripped at the top of the staircase, fell, broke her neck,
and died. Later that night, her distraught husband, who was drinking
heavily, wrote a suicide note and hung himself in a room near the
Haunted Encounters: Restaurant staff and
patrons have spotted spirits of the bride and groom wandering up and
down the stairs. A photo taken by the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society
revealed a white wisp of smoke hovering above the stairs when no one was
smoking in the room. Others say they have heard walking in the upstairs
dining room when it was empty and seen the ghost of a woman wearing
white in the back alley.
The UpStairs Lounge, New Orleans, Louisiana
Forty years ago, one of the deadliest crimes against the LGBT
community in U.S. history took place at this French Quarter gay bar
above The Jimani Lounge & Restaurant
when an arsonist set it on fire, killing 32 men. The UpStairs Lounge
had only one entrance—the door at the bottom of the stairwell, where the
fire originated. While the fire blazed, patrons tried desperately to
climb out the windows but couldn't escape, since windows were mostly
barred or blocked completely. Several bodies were unclaimed by
embarrassed family members, and the arsonist was never caught. The
UpStairs Lounge area is now the kitchen of the first-floor Jimani Lounge
Haunted Encounters: The building's current
owner, who witnessed the event as a child when his father was owner, has
seen apparitions of charred bodies, dark shadows, white orbs, and
flashes of light in the building. When Syfy's Ghost Hunters crew visited last year, detectors picked up screeching noises in the stairwell.
The Masquerade, Atlanta, Georgia
This concert venue in Atlanta's historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood
was originally a mill that produced wood shavings. Since the mill
property's opening at the turn of the 20th century, it has seen its
share of fires, structural collapses, and the gruesome accidental death
of mill worker Hubert Neal in 1899. But the grisly stories that
circulate at The Masquerade only add to the appeal for the goths, metalheads, and punk rockers who converge here for shows.
Haunted Encounters: Staff and concertgoers
repeatedly report sightings of an apparition of a tall black man and say
they've heard voices, screaming, and heavy phantom footsteps. An
investigation by the Georgia Society for the Paranormal Sciences
gathered accounts from multiple employees who described the feeling of
being watched. The group recorded several unexplained noises and
encountered a dark human-shaped mass. In the middle of the night, the
group watched as a mysterious dense white fog appeared and dissipated on
the club's second level, called "Heaven."
Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings, Nevada
The paranormal activity at this 100-year-old Wild West saloon just outside Las Vegas kicked off the 2013 season of Ghost Adventures
on The Travel Channel. Reportedly haunted by an elderly miner and a
cheating gambler who was killed at a card table in 1915, the Pioneer Saloon
hasn't changed much since the days of the town's mining boom. Bullet
holes from the gambler's murder can still be seen in the wall.
Haunted Encounters: Nearly every bar
employee has seen the ghost of the elderly miner, a short man who wears a
cowboy hat, standing behind people at the slot machines or hanging out
by the potbellied stove. The spirit of the gambler makes an occasional
appearance at a card table at the back of the bar. Visitors and staff
have also been known to hear disembodied voices and see mysterious
trails of cigarette smoke materialize.
The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro, Little River, South Carolina
Drawing paranormal-research conferences, A&E's My Ghost Story crew, and numerous investigation groups, The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro
has been called the most haunted location on the Grand Strand. It's
just north of Myrtle Beach's main drag in a 103-year-old Victorian home.
The restaurant owners have embraced the supernatural, saying they've
never felt threatened. They regularly plan special-event dinners with
psychics and talk openly about the restaurant's spook factor.
Haunted Encounters: Guests often get
"locked" in the second-floor bathroom. Strange voices, unexplained
movement of equipment, and shadowy figures have been reported by even
the most skeptical guests and employees. When one of the restaurant
owners asked the spirit who was there, the reply—captured in a
recording—was "Clarence." Clarence and Essie Bessent-McCorsley were the
original owners of the Victorian home.
Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford, Pennsylvania
Built in the 1760s at a major junction of the only road connecting
eastern Pennsylvania with the Ohio River, the Jean Bonnet was an
important trading post and watering hole for early settlers. If the
tavern's original stone walls could talk, they'd tell of rowdy trappers
and traders, Whiskey Rebellion farmers' meetings, and encampments of
troops summoned here by George Washington. Stories of the spirits at the
Jean Bonnet Tavern are captured in The Pennsylvania Ghost Guide, Vol. II by Patty A. Wilson.
Haunted Encounters: Guests and staff
describe a strange man in the bar after-hours, doors being opened and
closed, and the sensation of being touched when no one is around. When
members of the Central Pennsylvania Paranormal Association spent the
night, a group of apparitions in frontier-type clothing appeared in a
doorway and watched a man playing the piano at the other end of the bar.
Catfish Plantation, Waxahachie, Texas
In the south Dallas suburb of Waxahachie, Catfish Plantation
restaurant occupies an 1895 Victorian home where three former residents
are believed to have died. The apparition of Elizabeth, murdered here
on her wedding day in the 1920s, appears in her wedding gown. A
Depression-era farmer named Will walks around the lobby and front porch
in his overalls. Caroline, a strict religious woman who detested
alcohol, passed away here in 1970, and now she sends wine glasses flying
into the wall. The Travel Channel's Extreme Restaurants show, NBC News, and several paranormal groups have reported on the Catfish Plantation's strange occurrences.
Haunted Encounters: Besides seeing the
resident ghosts, the restaurant's guests and staff have felt cold spots
that move around. Clocks with missing parts chime. Doors, lights, and
faucets all operate at will. And several knives go missing every night.
The Jury Room, Columbus, Ohio
One of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Columbus,
opened in 1831, this downtown mainstay has plenty of stories to fuel its
ghostly reputation. It was built on Native American burial ground and
lost its third floor to a fire in the late 1800s. The original tin
ceiling and historical photos are a throwback to The Jury Room's
days as a bordello. At the bar, you can order a "Hung Jury," a
"Bordello Bubbly," or a "Lorenzo's Revenge," all nods to the prostitute
who shot a man on the bordello's front doorstep in the 1850s and her
subsequent trial for murder.
Haunted Encounters: A tall, shadowy man has
been seen roaming around the bar and appearing behind bartenders.
Objects move at will and women describe being attacked by unseen forces.
There have been so many occurrences that the staff now keeps a ghost
log and The Travel Channel's The Dead Files has come to investigate.
High Noon Restaurant & Saloon, Albuquerque, New Mexico
In Albuquerque's Old Town, two different spirits are believed to haunt High Noon Restaurant & Saloon,
housed in one of the historic district's oldest structures. Constructed
in 1785, the building has served as both a casino and a successful
brothel. According to Ken Hudnall's book Spirits of the Border IV: The History and Mystery of New Mexico,
some say High Noon is haunted by the ghost of a trapper. The female
spirit, investigated by the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association, wears
an old-fashioned white formal dress.
Haunted Encounters: Hudnall says the male
ghost may be responsible for the unseen tapping that customers and
employees feel on their shoulders, the smell of burning when the
fireplace isn't lit, and the calling out of employees' names. Several
customers and staff members have reported supernatural sightings,
including the female spirit, who haunts the Santos Room lounge. High
Noon is one of many restaurants and bars on the lantern-lit Ghost Tour of Old Town.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title America's Most Haunted Restaurants and Bars.
Posted October 18, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
National parks are kind of an American thing. After all, we
established the first one (Yellowstone) in 1872. But it didn't take long
for the idea to catch on overseas, and these days the international
community can give even our most impressive parks a run for their money.
If you love exotic wildlife, ancient ruins, and otherworldly scenery,
you might want to add these 10 foreign national parks to your bucket
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Where else can you enjoy mountains, lakes, fjords, and rainforests in
one park? Fiordland National Park, located on New Zealand's South
Island, encompasses a massive almost 3 million acres (roughly 4,687
square miles) formed by glacial flows. The most famous of the park's 14
fjords is Milford Sound, which visitors can explore from all angles:
Take a helicopter ride above it, cruise on the water, or go below
(without getting wet) at the Milford Discovery Center's underwater
viewing chamber, which offers 360-degree views of the ecosystem and rare
black coral some 30 feet underwater.
Tikal National Park, Guatemala
You'll feel like you've traveled back in time at Guatemala's Tikal
National Park, where ruins of an ancient Maya city-state (which housed
approximately 100,000 people from the 6th century BCE to the 10th
century CE) lie deep in the heart of the jungle. Remains of more than
3,000 separate buildings (including temples, palaces, and tombs) are
preserved here. The massive archaeological site feels even more
otherworldly as it is surrounded by 54,610 acres (roughly 85 square
miles) of rainforest, now inhabited by a wide variety of wild animals
such as monkeys, jaguars, snakes, sloths, and armadillos.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Wildlife watchers, this is the park for you. Kruger National Park's
almost 4.9 million acres (roughly 7,722 square miles) are home to an
incredible variety of species: 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507
birds, and 147 mammals—and of course that includes the "Big Five" of
African game (elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo). There
are numerous ways to traverse the park, from the wilderness walking
trails (where you'll be accompanied by armed guards) to traditional
safaris and 4WD trails.
Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
An astonishing 97 percent of the land area of the Galapagos Islands
is part of this national park (the other 3 percent is the inhabited
islands, on which tourists can find overnight accommodations, if they
don't choose to do a cruise). To visit the park, you'll need to pay a
$100 entry fee, and you'll have to be part of a tour that is accompanied
by a Galapagos National Park certified guide—there's no doing this park
solo. You'll be rewarded with one-of-a-kind wildlife spotting,
including the giant tortoise, Galapagos Penguin, marine iguana, and
Kluane National Park and Reserve, Canada
Kluane National Park and Reserve is home to Canada's highest mountain
(Mt. Logan), more than 100 species of birds (including golden and bald
eagles), glaciers, and grizzly bears. Visit in the summer when this
park, located in the southwestern corner of the Yukon, experiences up to
19 hours of continuous sunlight per day! Although more than 80 percent
of the park's landscape is comprised of mountains and glaciers (more
than 4,000 of them), the park still has plenty of greenery—there are
meadows and forests that house wide ranges of wildlife, from mountain
goats to Dall sheep.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Japan
This national park consists of four different regions: The Mt. Fuji
area (home to the highest mountain in Japan, fields formed by lava
flows, and five volcanic lakes), the Hakone area (famous for its hot
springs and botanical garden), the Izu Peninsula area (featuring the Mt.
Amagi volcanic mountain range and Atagawa Tropical and Alligator
Garden, which houses 29 reptile species), and the Izu Islands (a group
of islands formed by submarine volcanoes).
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Chile's Torres del Paine National Park is one of the world's most
visually arresting places. Its glaciers, lakes, green forests, and
rivers are framed by mountains and towered over by the Torres del Paine
(granite pillars that rise more than 9,000 feet above the Patagonian
steppe). Amid the beautiful scenery, you'll find more than 100 species
of exotic birds (including parakeets and flamingos), guanacos (similar
to llamas), pumas, and the endangered Chilean huemul (a species of
Canaima National Park, Venezuela
The star attraction of Canaima National Park is Angel Falls, the
world's highest waterfall, which drops for more than half a mile before
hitting the rapids. The park itself is roughly the size of Belgium
(12,000 square miles) and about 65 percent of its terrain is
tepuis—plateaus of rock that create the amazing cliffs and mountains
that make this park so picturesque. This national park is actually
inhabited—it's home to the indigenous Pemon Indians.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
If you want to experience some of Africa's best wildlife viewing,
Serengeti National Park is the place to do it. Every year, more than a
million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras, and 300,000 Thomson's gazelles make
their annual migrations from the northern hills to the southern plains,
making for some amazing safari photo ops. Even if you come when the
migration is not happening, you'll still likely see the Big Five, plus
cheetahs, Nile crocodiles, monkeys, giraffes, and much more.
Swiss National Park, Switzerland
Switzerland's only national park is one of Europe's best-protected
natural environments—hunting, mowing, off-trail hiking, and tree cutting
are all forbidden within the park's more than 42,000 acres. (You can't
even bring your dog.) The park's landscape is classic Switzerland, with
Alpine forests and meadows, The Sound of Music-esque scenery (including edelweiss flowers), and mountain lakes.
You Might Also Like:
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Best National Parks Around the World.
Follow Caroline Morse on Google+ or email her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted October 11, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Breathe in the ocean air and let the welcoming smiles of St. Andrews' locals invite you into this charming seaside town. Whether strolling along quaint downtown streets, venturing out onto the ocean floor at low tide, or lingering over a meal of regional delicacies, there's no lack of beauty in this close-knit community. Here are some favorite discoveries from my summertime tour of St. Andrews.
St. Andrews is set on the Bay of Fundy, which has some of the highest tides in the world—each day, the tidal cycle moves about 100 billion tons of water in and out of the bay. During the summer months, these waters are home to all types of whales, including minkes, humpbacks, and right whales, which some consider the world's rarest. Every year, they make their way to the Bay of Fundy to feed, fatten, and mate, and a visit to the region just isn't complete without venturing out for some face time with the majestic giants.
Fundy Tide Runners, headed up by gregarious and knowledgeable captain David Welch, is the best game in town for thrilling, up-close animal sightings and even better storytelling. Welch spent his childhood summers on nearby Deer Island, and his intimate knowledge of the West Isles was on display during my excursion on the 24-foot Zodiac. We were miles from shore, yet Welch recognized every sailor and lobsterman who crossed our path; each time, he'd pull up alongside the neighboring boat and ask after their families, how the catch was that day, and whether they'd spotted the elusive minke that everyone was talking about. Each interaction was an illustration of the ties that bind this seaside community.
Tear yourself away from the shops and restaurants along downtown St. Andrews' Water Street and you'll be richly rewarded with a vibrant display of plants, flowers, and sculptures in Kingsbrae Garden. Themed gardens, bridges crossing lily-pad-strewn ponds, pergolas draped with flowering vines, a working Dutch windmill, and a farm area with alpaca, pygmy goats, and peacocks are just some of the sights in this 27-acre horticultural masterpiece set on the grounds of a former estate. I could have spent all day taking in its serene beauty.
Aside from the natural scenery, what struck me was its cheerful, beaming workers, each friendlier than the next: a gardener lovingly repotting herbs, another pushing a wheelbarrow filled with dirt and weeds, a craftsman painstakingly applying a fresh coat of paint to a life-sized metal horse in the sculpture garden. Maintaining the grounds is truly a labor of love, and it shows.
The Algonquin Resort
The pride of every St. Andrews resident, the iconic Algonquin Resort sits high on a hill like a grand guardian watching over town. During my visit, the resort was deep in the midst of a $30 million renovation, but I was lucky enough to get a private hard-hat tour of the site with the resort's general manager, Tim Ostrem. Although the grounds were host to construction vehicles rather than guests, it was easy to picture the elegant, historical property post-transformation. Ostrem's boundless enthusiasm helped; as we walked through room after room, he painted pictures of the grandeur that the Algonquin would reclaim when its now-skeletal rooms were brought back to life.
The Algonquin Resort will officially reopen this fall, and recent photos show that it is well on its way to becoming the luxurious retreat Ostrem described. The hotel has preserved much-treasured architectural details, including Juliet balconies and a Tudor-style exterior, while expanding and improving existing offerings, such as the outdoor event spaces and spa. Don't miss locally sourced ingredients served up by executive chef Jasmin Kobajica at the on-site restaurant Braxton's, named after one of the Algonquin's original chefs who set the bar for uncompromising quality and inspired cuisine.
The Rossmount Inn
While taking advantage of a photo op—a breathtaking vista over the bay from the Algonquin golf course's signature 12th hole—I was asked by a couple of friendly golfers about my dinner plans. You would think I was meeting the Queen of England when I informed them of my reservations at the Rossmount Inn. One absolutely insisted I order the lobster cocktail, while another made sure to fill me in on Chef Chris Aerni's focus on honoring the freshest local ingredients.
The Rossmount Inn is certainly St. Andrews' most buzzed-about restaurant, and for good reason. The setting typifies elegant fine dining, but the food speaks to a more rustic approach and features mainly local ingredients—often foraged for by chef Aerni that very morning to be reinvented for dinner. The lobster cocktail was as delicious as it was beautiful, and the soup of fiddleheads, a prized ingredient with a brief harvest, was a true taste of the region's food culture. Be sure to top off the creative meal with a hike; the Rossmount sits at the base of Chamcook Mountain, whose peak affords expansive views of Passamaquoddy Bay.
In a cove around the corner from the famed Algonquin, I stumbled upon a mother and son digging for clams. Toes buried in the muck, they drove clam rakes into the soft mud and deposited their treasures in a wire basket. The beach was covered in a blanket of shells, and the ocean at low tide seemed to stretch on until forever. But this stark, gray beauty of sea and sky belied the rich world of marine life just below the surface; in fact, in 2013, New Brunswick was Canada's largest exporter of seafood. From kitchen to classroom, St. Andrews celebrates its seaside location, and every year, the town hosts the Bay of Fundy Seafood Week, which features renowned chefs from around the world leading cooking expos, forums, and classes, all focusing on local, sustainable seafood.
(Photos: Julianne Lowell)
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title A Seaside Stay in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
Follow Julianne Lowell on Google+ or email her at at email@example.com.
Posted October 9, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Can't seem to travel without an overstuffed bag? We're here to help.
If you're a chronic overpacker, these 10 tips will cure you of your bad
packing habits forever.
Start with a Carry-On
Unless you're traveling with kids, we argue that you don't need to
bring more than you can fit in a carry-on. Limiting yourself to a
suitcase that will fit in the overhead compartment is a surefire way to
force yourself to pack more efficiently. Consult our Ultimate Guide to Carry-on Luggage
to see which size suitcase you're allowed to bring on board. Bonus:
You'll pack lighter, save money (if you're flying an airline that
charges for checked bags), eliminate waiting time at the luggage
carousel, and never lose your bag again.
Only Pack Things That Can Be Worn More Than Once
Our rule: If you can't wear an item more than once on a trip, leave
it behind. (Obviously, this doesn't apply to things like underwear and
socks—unless you are also packing laundry detergent.) This means you
shouldn't pack the really cute shoes that only match one outfit or the
blazer that only goes with one shirt. Instead, pack things that can be
mixed and matched and worn a few times on your trip. Try to keep most of
your clothes within the same color palette so you don't have to worry
Pack More Tops Than Bottoms
You'll have a wider variety of outfits if you pack more tops than
bottoms. No one is likely to notice if you wear the same pair of jeans
every day as long as you have a different T-shirt on the top. Try
packing only one or two pairs of pants (perhaps a pair of jeans and a
pair of dress pants) and then re-wearing them with different tops.
Bring Multipurpose Toiletries
Pack toiletries that do double duty and you'll save tons of space in
your bag. Things like two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, a shampoo bar that also works as body wash and shaving cream, and a face lotion that also serves as sunscreen can all lighten your load.
Limit Yourself to Three Pairs of Shoes
Ideally, you shouldn't need to pack more than two pairs of shoes—one
for walking/hiking/being active, and one for dressing up. But if you're
doing a lot of walking, it can be good to pack two pairs of everyday
shoes (or boots for colder climates) in case one pair gives you
blisters. Wear the most comfortable shoes on the plane and pack the
Do you really need your laptop, tablet, digital camera, and
smartphone on your trip? So many gadgets multitask these days that one
or two should serve all of your needs. If you're packing your laptop for
a business trip, you might want to leave the tablet behind and use your
laptop to watch movies or read e-books. Smartphones can connect to
Wi-Fi and work like laptops for browsing the Internet and checking
email—and a flexible keyboard
can let you type as if you were on a real computer. Transfer your music
to your phone and leave your iPod behind. These gadgets may not seem
like they take up a lot of space, but they can add up when you factor in
all the assorted cords and chargers.
Pack Half the Clothes and Twice the Money
We don't know who said it first, but some of the best packing advice we've ever received is this:
out the clothing and cash you plan to bring on your trip. Now pack just
half of the clothes and double the money. The point is that people
often overpack and regret bringing certain items of clothing, but no one
ever regrets bringing extra money. You really won't need as many
clothes as you think!
Leave 'Just in Case' Items at Home
Ever find yourself packing a certain clothing item "just in case" you
get invited to an extremely fancy event, or just in case the weather
strays dramatically from the forecast, or just in case you go to a pool
party? Stop doing that. If you're presented with a situation for which
you need a drastically different outfit than anything you packed, take
that as a sign to go shopping instead!
Don't Pack at the Last Minute
Last-minute panic packing leads to a messy suitcase, forgotten
essentials, and mismatched clothing. Start packing early so you're not
in a bind if a piece of clothing you need is dirty or you need to buy
something for the trip. This also gives you time to trim down after
you've started packing.
Plan all of your outfits ahead of time. Decide on one outfit per day
(or per occasion, if you will need multiple outfits for each day). Don't
pack any more than what you need for each outfit.
Only Pack What You Love to Wear
If you don't wear it at home, you're probably not going to wear it on
vacation, either. So leave behind all of those clothes that don't quite
fit, aren't your favorite color, or you just don't like. Most likely,
if you don't love it, it will stay in the bottom of your suitcase just
like it stays in the back of your closet at home.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Cures for the Chronic Overpacker.
Follow Caroline Morse on Google+ or email her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted October 4, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Sometimes romantic, sometimes sinister, Europe's best castles evoke a
palpable sense of both melancholy and wonder. Their ancient stones brim
with mystery and history—but not the stodgy old history of musty
textbooks. Castles are the past brought to life, a visceral reminder
that quests and battles and chivalry weren't always the exclusive
province of fantasy novels. Go medieval on your next trip with a visit
to one of these castles where ancient history is alive and well.
Carreg Cenne Castle, Wales
Never trust any list of Europe's best castles that doesn't include at
least one entry from Wales. Owing to its tumultuous history of war and
rebellion, the Welsh countryside is home to more castles per square mile
than anywhere else in the world. Our favorite is Carreg Cennen, the only ruined stronghold to make this list. Actually, we like that Carreg Cennen has been in a ruinous state since 1462. Perched on a lonely limestone hilltop in Brecon Beacons National Park
and often shrouded in mist, Carreg Cennen is easily the most evocative
castle in the land. And while it may not be quite as popular as the
larger Caerphilly Castle, Carreg Cennen will always be first in our hearts. It's open daily between April and October.
Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria
Brooding high above Austria's Salzachtal Valley amid the dramatic
peaks of the Berchtesgaden Alps, this stronghold has served alternately
as a home to kings, archbishops, and prisoners (it was a state prison
for a period of time) for more than 900 years. Today, Hohenwerfen Castle
is a popular tourist draw and the site of Austria's foremost falconry
center, where the royal hunting art is on full display with daily
Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Predjama Castle is an easy sell to castle lovers. Most famous for
being built into the side of a 400-foot cliff, it may also call to mind
visions of Tolkien's Helm's Deep. But this real-world stronghold has the
requisite dungeons, secret tunnels, and bloody history to make it a
must-see on its own merits. Visit Predjama Castle during the annual medieval tournament, held each July, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Guedelon Castle, France
Who says the age of castles is over? Take a trip back in time at Guedelon Castle
in Burgundy, France, where a team of 50 craftspeople and laborers are
currently using 13th-century building techniques and technology (think:
horses) to construct an authentic castle from scratch, deep within a
secluded forest. Visitors are welcomed from mid-March to early November
each year. The project has been running since 1997 and hopes to reach
completion in the 2020s.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
It might be the most photographed castle in the world, but there's
still nothing quite like seeing Germany's fairy-tale castle in person.
The brainchild of "Mad King Ludwig" (or, more generously, "The
Fairy-Tale King"), Neuschwanstein has influenced everything from Disney attractions (note the similarity to Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle) to books and computer games.
Take a tour of the castle grounds, but leave time for an off-site walk
along the myriad nearby trails. That's where you'll find the most
stunning views for photographs.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
One of the most iconic castles in Europe, Scotland's Eilean Donan Castle is recognized the world over from its appearances on postcards and in movies like the original Highlander
("There can be only one!"). History buffs will appreciate Eilean
Donan's rich past as a key site during the 1719 Jacobite Rising, and all
will enjoy the stark beauty of its surroundings, where three great
lochs meet at the foot of an impressive mountain range. Today nearly
every part of the castle is accessible to the public for tours and
Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
This ancestral home to a line of German emperors would fit in with the fantastical fortresses imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. At 2,805 feet above sea level, Hohenzollern Castle really is
a castle in the clouds. The current fortress is actually the third to
be built on the site (the first was destroyed in battle and the second
fell into disrepair). Today it is a popular tourist attraction.
Hunyad Castle, Romania
The imposing Hunyad Castle,
which once imprisoned Vlad the Impaler (Bram Stoker's inspiration for
Dracula), offers plenty for castle aficionados to sink their teeth into.
Marked by myriad towers, multicolored roofs, and exaggerated stone
carvings, this Gothic-Renaissance castle was fully and fancifully
restored after decades of neglect. What we see today may or may not be
authentic (some suggest that modern architects projected their own
"wistful interpretations" of a Gothic castle onto the reconstruction),
but either way, the end result is memorable.
Edinburgh Castle, Germany
One of the best examples of a fully restored medieval fortress, Edinburgh Castle
towers over Scotland's capital city from atop an extinct volcano called
Castle Rock. It was built in the 12th century and has passed hands
between the English and the Scots numerous times over the course of its
bloody history. Today, it's open to the public year-round for tours and
From its origin as an unassuming hunting lodge to its height as the royal court of France under Louis XIV, the Sun King's Chateau de Versailles
is arguably the grandest castle in the world. No visit to Paris is
complete without at least a day trip to see the gardens, canals, and
gilded halls of Versailles.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Best European Castles You Can Visit.
Follow Josh Roberts on Google+ or email her at at email@example.com.
Posted September 27, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Welcome to Upright Position,
SmarterTravel's new weekly series in which editor Caroline Costello
discusses emotional and controversial travel topics. Join the debate by
leaving a comment below!
There is a poll on the homepage of our sister site Airfarewatchdog
that asks, "Have you ever tipped a flight attendant when flying?" I
found the poll's results surprising, given that the concept of offering
gratuities to flight crew hasn't crossed my mind, well, ever. Out of
more than 500 people who took the poll, nearly 30 percent of respondents
said yes, they have tipped a flight attendant in the past.
This is news to me. There isn't much of an economic foundation for
tipping the person who gives the safety demonstration and distributes
Terra Blues chips. Flight attendants aren't dependent upon tip income in
order to achieve a livable wage. (Still, their salary levels are by no
means good rationale for withholding gratuities. Gadling
says they make $35,000 to $40,000 annually, on average.) Further, most
airlines discourage flight attendants from accepting tips.
Maybe it's not about the money. An essay on tipping on the Financial Page of The New Yorker
attests to the social motivation behind the practice: "Tippers aren't
trying to drive hard bargains or maximize their economic interests;
they're trying to demonstrate their status and to reciprocate what they
see as good behavior." If tipping is more a gift imparted in a personal
exchange than a requirement in an economic arrangement, then it jibes
with air travel.
Flight attendants are super service workers. Their primary role is
keeping passengers safe in case of catastrophe—not refilling coffee.
They work grueling hours and have extensive training. And their
day-to-day grind is poles apart from the glamor of that Pan Am TV
period drama. Since attendants are so much more than wait staff,
perhaps they do deserve a little recognition in the form of a few bills.
Your flight attendant is busy. He's running up and down serving drinks,
comforting children, disarming disgruntled passengers. Arguably the
fastest and easiest way to communicate some appreciation is to hand him a
gratuity on the way off the plane. Will your offer get rejected? Maybe.
At least you tried.
It's about recognition and recompense for above-and-beyond behavior.
If tips are generally appreciated by flight crew (let's assume here that
they are), there's no harm in offering them. There's also no danger
that in-flight tipping will become a "thing" and kick off a coach-class
shame spiral for budget travelers who keep their wallets closed. A
practice that isn't sanctioned by the airline industry is not going to
become a trend anytime soon.
What do you think? Should travelers tip flight attendants?
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Should You Tip Your Flight Attendant?
Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted September 24, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
An upgrade to a class of service above what you paid for is a highly
desired travel perk. Whether you're dealing with an airline, a hotel
chain, a cruise line, or a car-rental agency, your easiest path to an
upgrade is to earn high status in a supplier's frequent-traveler
program. But there are a few other ways to snag this elusive bonus. Here
are some strategies with the highest likelihood of success.
General Strategies That Work
Earn Elite Loyalty Status
There's a reason they're called "loyalty programs"—the objective is
to get you to concentrate your travel on the program's sponsor. And they
often work well for those seeking free upgrades. Even if you don't
travel enough to earn any special status, just belonging to a loyalty
program can sometimes lead to an upgrade or other perks.
Enlist a Travel Agent
A travel agent who has clout with a supplier can sometimes score an
upgrade for you that you couldn't otherwise score on your own.
No matter the circumstances, you can sometimes score an upgrade by
just asking. But as loyalty programs become more systematic, the "just
ask" strategy is fading rapidly, especially when it comes to airlines.
Airlines: What Not to Do
If you're on a cheap ticket and don't have high-level elite status,
your chances of getting an upgrade are close to zilch. Airlines dole out
upgrades based on complicated algorithms that combine your elite level
and how much you paid for your ticket. These days, just about every
flight leaves with more people who are eligible for upgrades than
available first-class seats. If you don't have the status, you won't get
And you can be wary of that industry chestnut about dressing nicely
and asking politely, at least when it comes to airlines. Neither dress
nor graciousness impresses the computers that dole out the upgrades.
Join Airline Loyalty Programs
For really frequent travelers, upgrades—not miles—are the primary
loyalty benefit. Once you attain one of the higher levels—gold,
platinum, or whatever—you can almost count on flying in first class with
the purchase of a coach ticket.
If you're at a lower frequent-flyer level, your chances of getting a
free upgrade aren't so rosy. You may luck out once in a while, but the
higher-level frequent flyers get upgraded first, and there are more of
them every day.
Make Friends with Hotel Staff
Individual hotels have a lot of latitude in what they can offer
frequent guests. Just visiting a hotel often enough that the front desk
or management recognizes you can lead to upgrades without any membership
And the "just ask" ploy can sometimes work—especially if a hotel has available space.
Seek Out Cruise-Line Promotions
Take a quick look at listings from just about any online cruise
agency, and you'll see many sailings that promise two- to four-level
upgrades at whatever asking price you're contemplating. Right now, for
example, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering free upgrades with bookings on three-day or longer cruises.
Even if a cruise line isn't running an advertised promotion, a good
cruise agent can often get you a cabin upgrade. Just ask the agent.
Rental Cars: Do You Really Want an Upgrade?
Given today's high gas prices, many drivers who book economy or
compact cars don't want to upgrade to bigger gas guzzlers. Rates, too,
reflect the growing preference for economical rentals: For a January
weekend rental in San Francisco, Hertz's quoted per-day rate is only $1
more for an intermediate car than an economy car, and even a full-size
car commands only a $3 daily premium over the cheapest economy model's
To those who belong to frequent-renter programs, Avis, Hertz, and
National offer "choose a car" facilities at their largest airport
locations: You can choose any car in a designated lot at the same rate.
The net result: If you want to upgrade to a better car, you can
usually do so at very little cost—so you don't need to worry about
winning a free upgrade. And those low-cost or "choice" upgrades are
generally confined to basic sedans. Upgrading to an electric car, a SUV,
a minivan, or a convertible generally costs more.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Seven Ways to Get a Free Upgrade on Your Next Trip.
Email Ed Perkins at email@example.com.