The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Space Travel Agents

No it's not another movie with aging actors Tommie Lee Jones, James Garner and Clint Eastwood.

It's a whole new generation of space pilots and the agents who will sell the journeys to them.

Thrill seekers who have already "been there, done that" now have a new opportunity to earn some more bragging rights.

They can take a 2 hour trip that is out of this world and a roundtrip fare only costs about $250,000.00.

Virgin Galactic will launch suborbital space flights as early as 2009, with travelers rocketing to 75 miles above the Earth at 3,000 mph. advertisement

Adventurers with a burning desire to glimpse into space can book the $200,000 flight through one of 45 travel agencies certified to book the trip. Sorry but I wasn’t selected as part of this choice group but then again I don’t believe that there would be much demand for this product around here.

Space tourism has been science fiction for decades. But now the richest of the superrich can buy their way into space for a $20 million flight to the International Space Station.

Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group, is putting space flight within reach of wealthy adventurers who have done nearly every trek imaginable. And it appears that this is not a fantasy flight that will stay grounded.

Virgin Galactic is building a six-passenger spacecraft modeled after the SpaceShipOne, which already accomplished the manned suborbital flight into space twice in two weeks in October 2004.

For more information visit Virgin Galactic at

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Mention the word “tour or “package tour” and what image is projected in your mind? I would be willing to bet that the majority of you envisioned a group of seniors on a motor coach with a boring regimented very structured itinerary.

Well you’re wrong! That is the old tour model that you pictured.

Before I continue let me first define a tour as a travel product in which several elements are bundled (packaged) together and sold as a unit. Tours typically are 1 or more days in length, involve the use of a guide, host, or escort and offer many additional features and benefits. We’ll talk about the features and benefits of touring a little later.

Today the tour industry has an updated and offers an energetic product that appeals to just about any type of traveler. Because there are so many vacation choices today, the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) has commissioned a team of psychologists to develop a fun and entertaining self-test to help you determine the kind of vacation tour or package that best suits your personality and personal preferences.

To find out what of traveler you are go to USTOA’s free on-line traveler personality quiz and take the quiz.

Once you've determined your vacation personality, you'll be able to search the programs and services of all USTOA tour operator members to find tours and packages best suited to your personality.

I also suggest that you invest some time and read the various articles and informative stories posted at

After taking the quiz and browsing the USTOA’s website I hope that your image of a tour has changed and you’re ready join a tour group real soon.

Who knows you may even want to join me on one of my educational tours hosted by Ohio University. For a listing our group departures go to

Got travel questions! Email them to

Friday, January 25, 2008

More on defining hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts

The bed and breakfast (B & B) lodging option is normally a private residence, several rooms of which are set aside for overnight guests whose paid accommodations include breakfast. The owners of the home generally are the inn keepers and provide limited guest services. However this is a great way to dine with local residents or to share experiences at the breakfast table with fellow travelers. I particular enjoy this option when traveling overseas especially when in Europe.

The Grandview Inn in South Point OH is a good example of a motel while downtown properties like the Ashland Plaza Hotel and the Huntington’s Pullman Plaza are considered hotels. Shawnee State Lodge is a resort property while the Riverview in Franklin Furnace OH is a local B & B.

Room rates tend to increase as the amount of hotel services provided so the least expensive option is the motel. Also because of factors like location, historic nature of the building and the ambiance of a B & B these are not the least expensive lodging alternative. Some are down right pricey.

I am changing the subject on you and inviting you to a talk on the Magic of Mexico. It is Monday Jan 28th at 630pm in the meeting room of Ironton’s Briggs Public Library. I hope to see you there.

Got travel questions? Email me at

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hotel definitions continued

Some asked "what's the difference between a motel, hotel and a bed & breakfast. I define a motel in a previous post.

A hotel is frequently described as an establishment that provides lodging with their sleeping rooms opening into inside or interior corridor. Single female travelers, school groups and other guests enjoy this feature as it provides enhanced security and is common request. Hotels also generally provide meals or have a restaurant located on the premises. Other guest services provided by hotels can include meeting and conference facilities, swimming pool, game or exercise room, secretarial services, cocktail lounge plus many additional ones.

A resort hotel has many of the above features plus it’s a place frequented by people for relaxation or recreation. This means that resort properties may offer a casino, a water park or water sport activities, golf course, tennis courts, indoor/outdoor pools, spa treatments, horse back riding or hiking trails, skiing, gourmet dining and so forth.

In my next post I'll define the bed & breakfast for you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What;s the difference between motels, hotels & beds & breakfasts

Here’s a question that was recently delivered to the Travel Professor’s electronic mailbox:

“What’s the difference between a motel, hotel and a bed & breakfast?”

I usually define a motel, which is a derivative of motor inn, lodge, or court, as an establishment that provides lodging for motorists in rooms usually having direct access to an open parking area. You park in front of your room and have access via this external door.

This motor lodge concept is quite common among the budget to mid range priced properties. These are frequently limited service facilities that provide lodging but very few other guest amenities. Basically they provide a place to stay; in room coffee makers, microwaves, refrigerators and other features are not part of the motel (motor inn) concept.

But budget conscious traveler can take heart as there is a changing trend among many the limited service branded motor inns. They are bulking up their services to meet the needs and demands of the traveling public. I’m seeing more in room coffee pots, mini refrigerators, cable TV and wireless internet access being added as complimentary guest amenities.

The budget hotel segment is bulking up on services, unlike MLB & steroids.

In my next post I will attempt to differentiate between the motel & the hotel. After that I’ll discuss & define “beds & breakfasts”.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Studying & researching a destination

To the reader asking about how I select and research a destination:

When I research or study a destination before I visit I like to look at these areas. This is not an all-inclusive list but will help provide some guidance and directions. Be sure to identify areas that interest you and focus your study/research in this area too!
Study tools are everywhere. There are travel guides available for purchase in most book stores plus I’ve seen an increase of them in public libraries. A good on-line travel guide can be found at

Speaking of public libraries search their video tape and DVD collections or visit your neighborhood travel agencies. They frequently have tapes & DVDs to loan out plus they have rooms full of travel and tour brochures. Yes these are sales pieces but you can also get a wealth of knowledge out of them. The good brochures are packed with maps, itinerary ideas, hotels plus much more information.

Talk to people that have traveled there. Use them as sounding boards for recommendations, dos & don’ts

The Basics:
· How to get here & how to get around once there
· Weather & climate-this determines when to go & how to pack
· Everyday stuff: entry requirements, languages, currency, electric, political stability, etc
· Where to stay
· What to see & do, what to shop for
· What & where to eat & drink, what are the local specialties and flavors
· Entertainment & recreation
· Local customs & cultures

Your interests:
· Customize your search to meet your needs & special interests and/or those of your travelers.

· Keep good notes so you can navigate back to & relocate your research. Your data is useless if you can’t retrieve it. Have fun & learn a bunch.

A knowledgeable and informed traveler normally has a much better travel experience.

Got travel questions or concerns email me at

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Name that cruise ship contest

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line just announced a “Name That Ship” contest that will allow everyday travelers to name the world’s largest cruise ships currently named “Genesis I” and “Genesis II”.

All you have to do is to log in
here, complete and submit the registration and you could be one of the lucky winners of a cruise of a lifetime!

Here’s a tip, Royal Caribbean is looking for a name that reflects the experiences passengers have on a RCI cruises not the size of the ship.

Got travel questions? Need help? Just email me at

Friday, January 18, 2008

Chillicothe, Ohio's 1st capital part 2

I had my room booked now the next step was to look over the areas attractions and prepare an itinerary. I had about six hours of touring time on Saturday plus a couple of hours on Sunday morning so my focus would be places to see in the city, Ross county attractions would have to wait.

One place of interest was Adena, a one time 2000 acre estate of Thomas Worthington (1773-1827), sixth governor of Ohio and one of the state's first United States Senators. The mansion house, completed in 1806-1807, has been restored to look much as it did when the Worthington family lived there. Many original Worthington family furnishings are on display here plus there’s a new Museum and Education Center that incorporates interactive exhibits to tell the stories of people connected to Adena and to give visitors a picture of life in Ohio in the early 1800s. Situated on the 300 remaining acres of the original estate are five outbuildings and formal gardens. The gardens have undergone major renovation and I could only imagine how they would look once in full bloom. Visitors can stroll through three terraces of flowers and vegetables, as well as the shrubs and trees in the Grove. Looking east from the north lawn of the mansion, one can see across the Scioto River Valley to the Logan Range. This view is depicted on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.

For a lunch break try Sumburger Drive Inn located at 1487 North Bridge St. This place is one of the few original 1950's drive-ins left today. Their unique concept of carhop service and phones at every booth for ordering makes us one-of-a-kind. You can use either the carport speaker service outside or our phone service inside the dining room. Whether you're inside or out, you order when you are ready. If you are really hungry challenge the Sumburger double platter, this time the regular Sumburger was plenty for me.

Perk up your interest then visit and plan your own excursion.

Got questions? Send them to

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Road trip to Ohio's 1st Capital

Last Friday I was asked if I could attend a Kiwanis Club dinner meeting on Saturday in Chillicothe, OH. It was last minute but the schedule was free so the timing was perfect for another Travel Professor Road trip.

Many of us myself included are probably guilty of motoring right through “Chilly” as we head north or south on State Route 23. If we do stop it’s briefly for fuel or a quick snack then back to the asphalt roadway.

We very seldom deviate from our route of march and take the time to venture into the community to discover what they are all about. This time instead of driving to my meeting then immediately returning to the river cities I decided reserve a hotel room and spend Saturday and Sunday checking out Ohio’s 1st capital city.

First stop this time was not the Internet rather it was the travel information center just north of Lucasville on SR 23. The helpful attendant provided a great map of Chillicothe plus a nice tourist pamphlet on the city and Ross County.

I also picked up a magazine offering discounted coupons on last minute hotel stays. Armed with a list of telephone number I dialed a few up and managed to get a room for under $50.00 a night. OK I have to admit that I did search the net for hotel rooms in the area and the going rate was $80.00 plus so I figured that at $50 bucks I got a real bargain. Sorry but in cleaning out my car this pamphlet was pitched so I’ll have to give you their web address later.

Next I looked over the attractions and started to prepare my itinerary & I’ll share these with you later.

Got questions? Ask them at

Free hotels in London, England

Jet away this winter on British Airways and explore London, England, a city of royalty, myths, legends and more. Book a flight to London from just $189 each way, and receive up to two FREE hotel nights. Value priced extra hotel nights are available upon request. Airfare is base rate and does not include any government taxes, fees or surcharges.

For details contact your travel agent or visit
British Airways on-line.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Still more on the benefits of using a travel agent

Here’s where the travel agent, the Las Vegas specialist steps up to the plate and asks some very direct and probing questions. They’re attempting to form an idea of exactly what you’re looking for in your vacation.

When are you traveling? How long? How many? Any special needs? Why are you going?

What do you look for in a hotel? What are some names of hotels that you have stayed in and really liked?

Have you been to Vegas before? If yes where did you stay? Did you like it? Why or why not?

With these answers your agent has a pretty good idea about your travel motivations, needs & expectations (MNEs) and with a few key strokes or phone calls your agent has completed their research and is ready to offer you your options.

“Southwest & America West-US Airways are the 2 carriers that offer non stop service from Columbus. Everything out of Huntington & Charleston require at least one plane change and Cincinnati’s prices are way too high.”

The conversation continues with a couple of hotels options and you agree that the Luxor is the place for you. Flights are selected payments made and your Vegas getaway is booked.

You’ve invested hours and are still not sure if you’ve got the best deals or arrangements. The agent has invested a few minutes and should feel confident that they’ve got the best arrangements for your specific travel needs.
Which option is the smart move for you the traveler?
Got questions? Email me at

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More on why to use a travel agent

Here’s a continuation on my last post on why you should consider using a personal travel agent….

Travel agents through their computer reservation systems (CRS or GDS) and other agent only resources have access to complete and non-biased information and inventory that is provided by most airlines and travel suppliers. This differs from many consumer websites that only provide limited information on their specific products, IE you can only book Carnival Cruise Lines cruises or American Airline products on their respective sites.

Let’s say you want a vacation getaway to Las Vegas. This means that you have to conduct a thorough search and invest hours & hours in research. You’ll click on all the carriers that fly there plus some that don’t, click on all the rental cars & hotels, and then click on the tour operators then click here & there.

Next you have to sort through all your collected data, interpret this data then act on it (make a decisions). It’s been an exhaustive, timing consuming exercise and odds are pretty good that you’re still not sure if you’ve made the correct choice.

Here’s where the travel agent, the Las Vegas specialist steps up to the plate and...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Use A Travel Agent?

Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming. You’ve spent hours on-line, visited thousands of web sites and you are now experiencing information overload!

Admit it you amateur travel planner you’re stuck, just too many choices, too many options, way too much data and details! Peachtree Street, Peachtree Avenue, Peachtree Place, Peachtree Boulevard, Peachtree Way there’s just too many. Which location is the right one? You’re stressed out and stuck yes. But take heart in the fact that there is affordable (maybe even free) professional help available to ease your travel planning burden.

Where? Who? Why they are your local travel professionals! In Ironton it’s Travel World. You have AAA Travel in Ironton, Portsmouth, Russell-Ashland, Huntington and Charleston. Other Tri-State agencies include Ashland’s Tri-State Travel & Amelia’s All About Travel, over in Huntington there’s the Travel Doctors, National Travel, Travel INC and One Step Travel. There are plenty more excellent agents and great agencies in our communities and I apologies to them as space restrictions prevents me from posting an all inclusive list. Do a Google or Yahoo Yellow Pages search and you’ll discover a list of local agents and agencies.

A travel agent not only arranges the various modes of transportation, but also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, accommodation details and travel advisories. Don't take my word for it but check it out yourself.

I’ll keep Blogging about the benefits of working with a travel agent.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

PhD in Vegasology

My friends and colleagues constantly chide me about not “blowing my own horn” so forgive me for this shameless self promotion.

I was recently awarded a PhD in Vegasology. The degree is conferred by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau after a student has completed an extensive curriculum and in depth field study.

The course of study included the history, heritage, culture and attractions of Las Vegas along with detailed examination of the local lodging, gaming, entertainment and dining options that Valley has to offer. The final component was an in depth on location personal inspection tour of Las Vegas and surrounding area properties and facilities.

Lifelong learning is important in any industry and the travel business offers a broad range of training and certifications.

Over the years I have been able to complete numerous destination and travel product specialization programs and earn many certifications. These programs provide in depth knowledge and insights about places and products. & I will gladly share some of this with you the traveling public.

For more information on travel to Las Vegas contact Dr. Las Vegas @ 740.533.4559 or

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Years Resolutions

Recent polls indicate that one of this year's most popular New Year’s resolutions is to "spend more time with those you love."

Well, there's no better way to do so than on vacation. Book that long awaited family vacation, that weekend away with some friends or the romantic getaway you so deserve. What a great way to start the year.

Do you need some help on selecting the perfect vacation getaway? Just contact your local travel agent for suggestions & recommendations.

Don't have a travel agent then contact me.