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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.