Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tired of Taxis? Try Uber!

Uber - One of many ride-share companies!
Tired of taxis? More and more options are available at a street corner near you! This post focuses on one such option: Uber. This is a service you use through an app on your smartphone. After you sign-up with your information and link a credit card, you simply request an Uber car through the app. The driver can text or call you, and you get up to the minute details on when the car will arrive.

Regarding safety, Uber does background checks on their drivers. Most drive relatively new cars (often an energy efficient Prius). But, as more and more ride-sharing services enter the market, there are likely to be more rules and regulations to help keep everyone safe!

Bonus! Get your first ride (up to $15) free through this link!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Power of posting reviews!

Even the TSA can now be reviewed on Yelp!
Sometimes bad things happen, even when on vacation. I wanted to highlight one way travelers can "fight back" with large airlines and hotel chains for bad customer service - through reviews. Twitter, Facebook, Trip Advisor and Yelp are being used by so many as they plan trips, and bad reviews can really hurt big business. 

A 5-star hotel with less than glowing reviews will make
people look to 4-star hotels with great reviews! 
Star ratings of hotels now mean less, while real customer reviews carry more weight. As time moves forward, I think we'll see less of the standard star and diamond ratings, and more based strictly on number and type of customer reviews. People are going to care less about a 5-star hotel with mediocre reviews than a 4-star with all positive reviews.

Even the TSA can be reviewed! Through an agreement with Yelp, the TSA can now be reviewed, and suggestions are monitored and taken into account for making improvements. Personally, I had one remarkably bad experience at SFO with an extremely unprofessional TSA agent. I wrote down the checkpoint number and person's name, knowing I was going to report it later. Keeping these specific details are key to any complaint or review. Instead of going public, I wrote a letter to the TSA itself, which passed the information on to the local airport, from which someone did reach out to make sure the individual was disciplined. 

Traveling is supposed to be a wonderful experience. When people (or places) ruin that, make sure to spread the word. Whether it be directly with the company or through social media. They have to listen, especially with everyone watching!

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Big D

While not a Texan myself, I spent a weekend in Dallas with a few local friends as tour guides. Here are their suggestions, in pictures, for places to see when visiting their town, nicknamed the "Big D!"


Mega-churches - Prestonwood Baptist,
Potter's House of Dallas, Friendship-West Baptist
Parks - Thanks-Giving Square, Klyde Warren Park
BBQ - Pecan Lodge, Lockhart Smokehouse and Hard Eight
Museums - Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Garden

Fort Worth

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Historic Stockyards - Cattle Drive

Pecan Lodge - One of the best BBQ joints in Dallas!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Are 5-star hotels worth the cost?

The Breakers - Palm Beach
(Image obtained online)
It's hard to put all 5-star hotels into one category. Especially as star rating and quality can vary widely between countries. But, if we focus on the United States, the question becomes whether the luxury is worth the cost. I've been lucky to have visited a number of 5-star resorts, and have mixed feelings. Here are some of the pluses and minuses I've encountered. Leave your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Positives to 5-star Hotels
* Service is normally spectacular.
* Location and comfort is excellent.
* Often have spas for added relaxation.
* Attention to detail.
* Special holiday events.
* Transportation is streamlined.
The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs

Negatives to 5-star Hotels

* Cost - Not just of the hotel itself, but the added resort fees, parking fees, internet fees, tips, etc. It often feels like they nickel and dime you to death, even though you're already paying a high rate.

* Not as family friendly (this can be a negative or positive depending on the customer).
* Can feel "stuffy," though it really depends on the location.
* Often quieter in the evenings, less live entertainment at the bars/restaurants.

The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay

Friday, September 11, 2015

Americans Abroad

Whether I'm traveling myself, or hear stories from foreign friends, it always makes me cringe when Americans just don't seem to fit in traveling abroad. Not that being unique is a bad thing, but please avoid some of these common mistakes which make us all look like fools…

White tennis shoes and Jeans
=  American Tourist
Blue jeans with white tennis shoes - While comfortable, white tennis shoes and jeans have been the sure sign of being an American Tourist for generations. There are so many different styles of comfortable walking shoes - buy one and take your travel style up a notch!

Athletic workout clothes - In America we wear workout clothes to do almost everything (except actually working out)! My foreign friends have mentioned that it's so weird that Americans do this. Prevent the "lack of style" stigma - dress respectfully when traveling abroad!

Socks with sandals - Travel Faux Pas
Sandals with socks - Either forego the socks or buy a comfortable and trendy pair of walking shoes!

Baseball caps and t-shirts - Ok, don't get me wrong, I think sun protection is important! (Always wear sunscreen and a hat!) But, please take off your hat when indoors.

Loud Americans - There's no surer a way to stand out than loudly announcing it with your voice. Be respectful and keep it down!

What do you notice when traveling abroad that screams American Tourist?