Saturday, August 30, 2014

American Airlines and US Air Leaving Orbitz


American Airlines and US Airways have withdrawn all their ticket sales from the travel website Orbitz due to being unable to come to an agreement on a new contract.  

Travel websites have since over taken the roll of ticket purchases from the airlines actual website by offering "lower prices" or specials but now the tides are changing.  Many airlines are wanting to regain control again of purchase sales and so the public will be seeing less from companies like Orbtiz and Expedia and more directly from the airlines as they revaluate the cost and benefits of working with the companies. 

To say that this loss to Orbitz is great is an understandment, it is huge.  American and US Airways together account for a quarter of the U.S. travel market and it has already reflected in the stock market.  Shares in Orbitz Worldwide fell 4.6% on Tuesday closing at $8.04.

An example of an airline that already "controls cost" by not selling their tickets through travel companies is Southwest Airlines.  They have always sold directly through themselves and it is has proved to be a successful method of climbing to the top of the airline ladder by keeping money "in house."

Even with this change, tickets that have already been purchased are still valid but in order to make changes to the reservations you now have to call the airline directly. 

 Also, Orbitz put out a statement letting the public know "Our sites offer hundreds of airlines which are eager to capture the revenue American is choosing to forego, and we will continue to show our customers a broad range of flight options to thousands of destinations in the U.S. and worldwide."

*source: Chicago Tribune*

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fairytales...Not just for kids!

If you find yourself in Germany take a drive down Fairytale Road and explore the castles and countrysides the Grimm Brothers used as inspiration in their folklore tales.  The same tales that have transformed the lives of children since the early 1900s.  

But for now - lets take a virtual tour...   

Neuschwanstein Castle

Inspired: Sleeping Beauty's Castle 
Where: Bavaria, Germany
Best time to visit: July to September
Dates of operation: March 28 - October 15 9am-6pm  
October 16 - March 27 10am-4pm
Closed January 1, December 24, 25, 31
Tickets: Adults 12 Euros / Children 11 Euros
Buy your tickets BEFORE you leave for the castle in the town of Hohenschwangau below the castle.

Lohr Castle

Inspired: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Where: Lohr, Germany
Best time to visit: July to September
How to view castle: Purchase tickets to the Willkommen Spessart Museum and follow the numbers on the tickets around the castle.

Ziegenhain, Germany

Inspired: Little Red Riding Hood
Best time to visit: June - September

Trendelburg Tower

Inspired: Rapunzel
Where: Trendelburg, Germany's Hesse region
Best time to visit: May - September
Cost: Free!

Brothers Grimm Tour

Who they are: Folklore authors whose works have been adapted by Disney and others.
Wrote: Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Frog Prince, Snow White
Where: Hanau, Germany
What: It is a memorial to the brothers and also the start of the Fairytale Road.

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I have to throw in these destinations also for my sheer love of the Lion King and Beauty and the Beast!!!

The Serengeti, Africa

Inspired: The Lion King
Where: Tanzania region, Africa
Best time to visit: June to Sepetember
Cost to visit park: Varies - visit here to compare all companies and prices

Chateau de Chambord

Inspired: Beauty and the Beast
Where: Loire Valley, France
Best time to visit: Late spring to catch the chateau's gardens blooming and the fall to catch the restaurants serving their freshly harvested bounty.
Tickets: Free!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Most Scenic Train Rides Across the USA

First - Lets talk Amtrak

Traveling by train is one method of trip taking that most do not even consider but should.
Because trains offer the passenger a relaxing, scenic, affordable way to get from point A to point B.  
Like I have always said, "let traveling be part of the vacation too!" 
What most people do not realize is that majority of the train routes travel directly through some of the most beautiful areas our country has to offer and Amtrak offers 800 destinations for you to choose from.  
If you have the time - opt for the train.  You can customize your journey to take you on a week long adventure or just a few hours.  You could also spend as little as $20 or as much as a first class plane ticket.  It is all up to you.

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Is there a season for traveling by train???
The peak periods for most rail companies is roughly between April to September and you will see a rise in ticket prices during these times.  I would suggest traveling in the spring and fall for lower ticket costs and optimal scenery.  Also, the trains fill up much quicker in the summer months and holidays so keep that in mind when booking your trip.
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The seating accommodations when traveling via Amtrak are similar to the layout of a plane's.  
First Class

Also, if you are traveling long distance most trains offer sleeping accommodations on either their two-level Superliner train or one-level Viewliner train. 

On Superliner TrainsRecommended
of Beds
Roomette1 Adult 1 Adult2 Adultnonenone
Bedroom1 Adult 1 Adult2 Adult11
Bedroom Suite1 Adult 1 Adult 1 Adult 1 Adult4 Adult22
Family Bedroom1 Adult 1 Adult 1 Child 1 Child2 Adult
2 Child
Accessible Bedroom1 Adult 1 Adult2 Adult1none
Viewliner 3D Tour - Launch Now
To learn more about Viewliner room amenities and to view room schematics and QuickTime Virtual Tours, click on the links associated with each bedroom type below. Or launch the 3D tour to interactively explore the rooms in greater detail.
On Viewliner TrainsRecommended
of Beds
Roomette1 Adult 1 Adult2 Adult1none
Bedroom1 Adult 1 Adult2 Adult11
Bedroom Suite1 Adult 1 Adult 1 Adult 1 Adult4 Adult22
Accessible Bedroom1 Adult 1 Adult2 Adult11
Frequently Asked Questions
How many people can a bedroom accommodate?
Most sleeping car rooms are designed to comfortably accommodate two averaged-sized adults, one in each berth. Some rooms can accommodate more: on Superliner trains, for example, Family Bedrooms are designed to accommodate two adults and two children. Regular Bedrooms (not Roomettes, Family Bedrooms or Accessible Bedrooms) can be combined to create Bedroom Suites. In addition, lower berths in all Bedrooms (but not Roomettes) can accommodate two small adults or children, allowing up to three to share a room.
How are sleeping accommodations priced?
The purchase of sleeping accommodations is considered to be an upgrade to your regular rail fare. The charge is applied as an add-on, usually to the lowest rail fare available. When you share a sleeper, you will be charged only one accommodation charge for all parties sharing the sleeping accommodation. Each passenger pays regular rail fare.
Sleeping car accommodation charges vary according to customer demand. In general, we suggest you book early to get the best price.
Are meals included with my sleeping accommodations?
Yes. Sleeping accommodations are considered "Sleeper Service" accommodations aboard Amtrak. As Sleeper Service passengers, you and your sleeping car companions (up to the maximum passenger capacity for your accommodation) are entitled to receive all regular meals as part of your accommodations.
How do I book sleeping accommodations?
You can reserve sleeping accommodations when you make your reservations. Sleeping car accommodations are subject to availability. We suggest that you plan ahead and reserve your preferred sleeping accommodations early.
Are there any other perks?
Yes. Sleeping car passengers are entitled to a range of hotel-like amenities, including fresh linen and towel service and complimentary bottled water. In addition, as Sleeper Service passengers, you and your companions enjoy access during your voyage to Club Aclea and Amtrak Metropolitan Lounges located at select stations.
Can I upgrade to sleeping accommodations once I'm onboard a train?
Sometimes, yes. If unsold space is still available, you can purchase sleeping accommodations onboard trains. Please speak with the Conductor for more information.
Although sleeping accommodations are occasionally available onboard, it is unwise to rely on last-minute availability. Sleeping car accommodations often sell out completely. For best results, please book well in advance of travel.
*Sourced from: Amtrak Official Website *

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Top 8 Most Scenic Routes via Amtrak

Adirondack - New York, New York to Montreal, Quebec
Keep in mind that Amtrak does not travel into Alaska so you need to contact Alaska Railroad for their details.  Also, check out:

United Military Travel can book all your train traveling needs so give them a call today at 866-582-9579