Travel

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Travel: LGBT campsites offer inexpensive, casual summertime fun

Summer camping options

For those looking to escape the grind, smog and congestion of the city in summer, a number of gay-owned Georgia campgrounds offer peaceful, often clothing optional, retreats from the summer heat.

But running a campground isn’t easy. Once located near Valdosta, Bobcat Resort Campground closed last year. Another casualty of 2011 was Lumberjacks Camping Resort, in Unadilla, near Macon, but the property has been reborn as Oz Campground, with its grand opening slated for Memorial Day weekend.

Rich McTague is one of the new owners. Two gay couples bought Lumberjacks and have set upon improving the campground.

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Travel: Road trip tips from Atlanta’s queer music darlings

Girlyman performs at Eddie's Attic

If anyone is an expert in road traveling, it’s Doris Muramatsu.

On the road for two weeks at the time with her band Girlyman since early 2001, Muramatsu has seen hundred of thousands of miles of America’s asphalt maze — with bandmates Ty Greenstein, Nate Borofsky and newest member JJ Jones in tow.

“We certainly know how to find the best route, how to find good food, and how to Priceline 3.5- to 4-star hotels for $35,” Muramatsu says. “When you travel as much as we do, you learn how to make the road work for you in a more streamlined fashion.”

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Travel: Gay traditions beckon in Florida

The start of the summer season means an annual tradition for many LGBT people around Georgia and the South – making a road trip to Florida for a weekend (or longer) full of sun, beaches and parties.

While Pensacola remains the unofficial gay Memorial Day mecca, in recent years the LGBT celebrations have spread throughout Florida to include Miami and Orlando as well, with Gay Days beginning just after the holiday weekend. These days, events are geared strategically for both men and women and days and nights are loaded with activities.

Owners of My Sister’s Room, the Atlanta lesbian bar, are involved in Pensacola events again this year. According to Patryce Yeiser, co-owner of the bar, last year was their maiden year sponsoring Memorial Day weekend events. She had been going to Florida on and off for the last 15 years and realized that there was only one big women’s event.

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Travel: Hit the road for big LGBT events this summer

Ready to get out of town?

Whether you prefer beach or mountains, cruising or camping, check out these big LGBT events to get you on the road this summer.

FLORIDA OR BUST

Head south for hot LGBT fun this summer. More Florida events listed under other specific categories.

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Travel: 10 tips for better trips

Get your passport in order before your trip

COMPARE FARES
Buy your air tickets on Tuesday afternoons. Fly during the middle of the week. Sign up for airfare alerts at FareCompare.com.  In the current world travel climate ticket prices are going up daily. Do not wait for a sale. There will be none.

BE PRO-CHOICE
Pick what view you want from your seat on the plane; it could be left side land or right side water. And choose port or starboard for your ship cabin.  A cabin facing west in the afternoon will be warmer due to all day sun, but it might be the land view.

HOTEL HAPPINESS
When you enter your hotel room, walk around each room and look at the view. If everything is not just as you want it, go back to the front desk and politely request a different room to make your stay more enjoyable. It is your right, your money, and even your obligation to get exactly what you expected when you made your reservation. Hotels are eager to make you happy; upgrades are often given as an apology for your initial dissatisfaction.

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Travel: Are you addicted?

It’s a New Year, and the perfect time to admit that I am powerless. I think I have hit rock bottom.

But I have given it a lot of thought and decided I don’t want any help. I want to keep on chasing the intoxicating traveler’s high. I can make a three-night trip into a month-long binge of trip preparation pleasure. And there is absolutely nothing I want to do about it.

There is something very captivating and alluring that happens when you move from occasional to frequent traveler. You start getting into predictable and intensely enjoyable patterns of vacation preparation. I can’t stop with the almost continual, methodical planning and daydreaming that get me closer to the pay off of finally walking out my door and beginning the trip.

First I get immense satisfaction during the packing ritual. I binge for a week. Every day at work I fantasize about getting home and looking at my stuff. Do I want to take this, do I want to take that? I put all my possible travel companions in their own area and mull them all over for the next few days. I then start weeding out. I have some favorite things that every time I pack I include because they are my really favorite things. But they always end up staying home.

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Travel: Retro road trips

Roadside Lobster Shack

Classic Americana is my pick for the New Year’s trend in travel. A themed trip through the past is the perfect way to take your mind off whatever is presently bothering you. Retro retreats, classic road trips, and theme hotels create the stage for fantasy vacations that will satisfy any figment of your imagination.

Americana road trips are easy to plan, go light on your wallet and create vivid memories. Decide on your trip’s theme and lay out the route with a Google map. The Trails of Bonnie and Clyde is my latest client request. I put them in a vintage Ford Deluxe Sedan and sent them out to stops including the Ambush Museum in Gibsland, La., and Bonnie & Clyde’s Diner in Shelbyville, Ind. Hotels range from roadside kitsch to the luxurious Eldorado Shreveport.

Route 66 remains the Mother Road of car trips. “Get your kicks on Route 66” with 2,000 miles of fabled Americana from Chicago to Los Angeles. Even with the Grand Canyon as a centerpiece, Route 66 is not found on modern maps. The two lane byway was out paced by the eight lane highway. But the classic motels and Chicago back streets still make it the best of the best road trips. Rent a VW camper for this one.

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Travel: How to avoid being fooled by online reviews

You and your partner want to take a spur of the moment trip to the beach for a little relaxation before the holiday madness. You love to plan trips so you google “beach resorts” and are overwhelmed with 2,400,340 results. So you will concentrate on the first 30. But beware: Nothing is what it seems because you are about to enter the world of reputation management.

In the business of rating hotels, travel companies, destinations and services, the opinion of people with first hand knowledge is extremely valuable. It can also be deadly if their experience was negative. The manufacturing, placement and evaluation of customer reviews is the objective of internet marketing.  And we, the consumers, have to make sense of the information.

Trip Advisor is the granddaddy of opinion sites.  We have been told about manipulation that allegedly goes on with bogus reviews. There are travel watchdogs constantly nipping at Trip Advisor’s heels to keep them honest. Reputation management companies are known for being able to bury negative reviews by adding neutral or glowing reviews to the top. We usually just read the first 20 or so comments. The result is that we are less likely to see all the bad comments and more likely to see only the good ones. So go to the last comment and read backwards. Don’t go back further than one year.

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Travel: 9 Tips I tell clients but forgot to follow, or what I learned on my fall vacation

The pilot of the Life Flight air ambulance counts down the landing in feet. He yells out descending height in hundreds so that the attending doctor can buffer the patient to the inevitable bumpy, jarring landing. To my injured friend — with a minimum of several broken ribs — knowing when to hold her breath and bite her wrist to brace against impact was welcomed. The pilot didn’t tell me to fasten my seat-belt or stay seated or watch my head. He was totally focused on flying through the fierce tropical storm, countering the turbulence, to do the least amount of additional harm to his living cargo.

My recent beach vacation to the Bahamian island of San Salvador was full of eye opening reinforcement of tips I tell clients but often ignore myself. By writing them down, I hope to ingrain the smart ideas in my brain for future trips. Vacations are meant to be fun, but accidents still happen.

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Travel: Multi-generational holiday trips

As the holidays near, it is time to plan the family gatherings. If you are the host, a lot of thought, money and stress goes into feeding and entertaining your multi-generational family.  How do you keep the kids and the grandparents occupied, day after day? The kids usually win out and everyone ends up at the zoo and latest G rated movie.

There are travel options you ought to consider.

Don’t count out holiday travel as being too costly, complicated or difficult for the grandparents. Hotels, resorts, national parks, cruise lines and trains are all rolling out the red carpet for financially challenged vacationers in this tough holiday season.  If you have already made vacation plans and paid full price, consider asking your travel agent to negotiate some amenities.

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Travel: Napping Nooks make layovers desirable

Hartsfield Jackson airport

The next time you are at the Atlanta airport, and on Concourse B, look for them. The  Minute Suites are around Gate 15 and are the latest national trend. Hartfield-Jackson is the first airport in the country to test these traveler retreats. Since November 2009 the napping nooks have offered layover passengers a place to relax, conduct business or sleep.

The five private rooms measure 7’x8’ and are enveloped in sound masking walls. There is a daybed, workstation, HDTV, computer and wifi. The tv can switch from satellite programming to the airport tracking system. The diverse staff is friendly and enthusiastic.