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, July 31, 2008

Pirates of the Caribbean hotel sails next year into Disney World

For 2009 Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is extending the theme park experience to their hotel rooms by adding a pirate theme to 384 rooms within the Trinidad South Village area. Each Pirate Room will feature ship-themed beds, buccaneer accessories and swashbuckling décor.

For reservations contact your travel agent!

Ohio's Great Lakes Getaway

Mention the word “beach” around here and everyone thinks of whisking off to Myrtle Beach and the coastal shores of South Carolina. While it’s a worthy location offering up plenty of attractions and activities for the entire family there are many other beach destinations to sample and enjoy.

One of these beach getaways is the shores and islands of Lake Erie up in northern Ohio. A 5 to 6 hour drive places you smack in the middle of the Ohio “Keys” and the Sun & Fun Coast. There is also plenty of history and culture up here too!

On Ohio’s north coast you will discover a world class amusement park, historic and modern beachfront resort hotels, wineries, quaint cabins, outlet shopping, water parks and much more.

The area that I am referring to is basically Sandusky, Port Clinton, Put in Bay and the Lake Erie Islands, portions of
Ottawa, Erie, Huron and Sandusky counties.

There is plenty to do from watching the waves lapping at shore, viewing a romantic sunset to explore the attractions and amenities of the Key West of Ohio’s north shore and islands.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A few more on-line hotel discount coupon sites

Here are a few more on-line hotel discount sites that I’ve used on occasion. Check out the specials posted on and

These offerings are normally for last minute middle of the week stays. But hey you’ve got the phone number directly to a hotel so why not call them and see what rate you can negotiate with the property directly.

Yes you can negotiate your rate. Give it try you may enjoy it.

Out there in blog land do you have good sites to recommend?

Happy travels!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Discount or dollars off travel coupons

Coupons either you ignore them or won’t make a purchase without one. For you coupon clippers here’s a winner of travel coupon site offering up discounts on airfares, cruises, hotels, tour packages plus much more than travel products.

Yes I use coupons but I'll often rate shop by comparing both the best available price without a coupon then also with a coupon or discount code. Sometimes it worth using a coupon sometimes it nots but it is a worthwhile exercise.

As with most discount offers there are plenty of terms, conditions and fine prints. Important items to check are the dates of travel permitted under the special, advance booking requirements and change/cancel fees.

Happy travels!

Friday, July 25, 2008 many of us in the Tri-State a day trip west on I-64 to Morehead KY is a short jaunt and possibly a one tank trip. Here are some on my thoughts on a “Cultural Arts” to the Bluegrass mountain region of Kentucky.

Start your day off with a visit to the
Kentucky Folk Art Center (KFAC) located in the historic Union Grocery building. This venue offers a unique window on the arts and crafts of Appalachia and features a permanent collection of over 1300 pieces. KFAC mission is to preserve and promote a broader understanding of traditional and contemporary folk art of the culture and the peoples of the mountains. KFAC continues to expand the scope of our preservation and educational efforts into areas beyond visual folk art. Our expanded areas of interest include traditional music, storytelling, literature, dance, and crafts.

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for senior citizens with special rates available for group tours.

Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. KFAC is closed on Sunday January through March.

While on the campus of Morehead State University be sure to visit the exhibits at
The Claypool-Young Art Gallery. This setting the university community along with the community cultural opportunities to view a wide range of visual art. The art gallery located in the Claypool-Young Art Building is the largest exhibiting space in Kentucky east of Lexington and features rotating collections of contemporary art of American and international artists. The gallery is open 800am through 400pm Monday thru Friday.

Special receptions and events are held throughout the year at both the Kentucky Folk Arts Center and the Claypool-Young Art gallery so be sure to check with each locale.

For more information about Morehead tourism contact the local visitors office at 1-800-654-1944 or (606) 780-4342.

More on clean hotel rooms

You've probably heard this one before but remove the bedspread. Most hotels do not wash bedspreads after each guest checks out so there is no idea of when it was last cleaned. The frequency of blanket laundering varies from hotel to hotel so if the idea of a previously used blanket spread across your hotel bed gives you the creepies then call the front desk and have housekeeping bring you clean (please stress clean & freshly laundered) blankets. Really freaked out on cleanliness level then bring your own bedding from home.

If it moves in the room disinfect it! Simply spraying a few frequently touched surfaces with some antibacterial sanitizer should make your stay a whole lot cleaner and enjoyable. Key places to spray for germs include the phone, door knobs, the toilet handle, the ice bucket, the remote control and bathroom faucet handles.

As Mother always gently reminds us “Wash Your Hands”! Frequent hand washing has been proven to reduce the transfer of colds and viruses, and will prevent bacteria getting from whatever it is you're touching (why is this remote control sticky?) to your mouth, eyes or nose. So even if your hotel room is poorly sanitized, some good ol' hand washing will keep those nasty germs at bay.

Your room comes tastefully appointed with nice glasses and coffee mugs but avoid these things. Do not assume when you pour yourself a cold glass of water or steaming hot coffee that the glass or mug is clean. In most hotel rooms there's no guarantee that the glasses and mugs aren't simply rinsed off under the tap by the cleaning staff then wrapped in one of those nice paper bags. Stick with the plastic cups that are sealed in a wrapper or run your cup/glass under hot water for a minute or two before using it as this will kill most bacteria. Or you can reuse that 20 ounce hot beverage cup from Mickey D’s or your last fuel stop.

By being diligent and using a few preventive measures you can ward off many of the nasties you may find in frequently used hotel room. A few minutes of prep time and you should be able to enjoy a restful night’s sleep unless your hotel has other guest issues that may prevent this.

If you have any concerns about your room be sure to speak directly with the General Manager as he/she is the one that can really correct your concerns. Speaking with any else at the hotel other than the GM or manager on duty will probably fall on deaf ears. Also be a web buddy and go online and share your honest comments and evaluate this hotel for other travelers. Please be frank but fair in your comments.

Got travel questions or concerns? Email them to Happy travels!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Do I Make Sure My Hotel Room Is Clean?

First thanks for the great question as I’m sure everyone has opened the hotel door to disaster more than once. I know that I have experienced some extremely filthy and well worn guest rooms.

I do not have a simple answer to your question because no national or international standards for hotel cleanliness exist. Price, location or a brand name will not always guarantee completely sanitary accommodations. So until some international "clean police" squad starts fanning out over the globe to inspect toilets and sheets in hotels around the world, your best bet is to find out what your fellow travelers are saying.

Seek recommendation from friends, relatives, business associates, travel agents and so forth and ask them where they stayed while at destination X. We interact with plenty of people that would be willing to share an honest appraisal of a property.

Most travel and hotel review web sites have a cleanliness category in the hotel evaluation area so read these postings. One of my favorites is
TripAdvisor, which offers user ratings of thousands hotels, restaurants and businesses around the world; you can also find hotel reviews on other major booking engines such as Travelocity and Orbitz.

There are other steps to take but I’ll talk about those in another post.

Monday, July 21, 2008

You may want to book winter & spring air flights now!

In reaction to the escalating cost of jet fuel most airlines have readjusted their schedules by grounding a portion of their fleet which reduces the number of flights flown and seats available for sale.

What does this means to budget conscious traveler or really any air traveler?

Decreased service (number of flights) reduces the number of seats that are available to be sold between city pairs. Simple economics says that if the demand stays steady or increases for the airline seat and the amount (supply) of available seats decreases then we should expect a raise in ticket prices.

As the winter vacation season approaches the reduced supply of available seats along with increased demand will pose some scheduling problems for travelers.

My advice is to book early, as early as possible. Most U.S. carriers publish their schedules and accept reservations about 330 days into the future.

You should be working on reserving flights for spring break 2009 and for most destinations good luck on finding anything affordable for Thanksgiving this year.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the road again to Ft Knox & Louisville KY

Just home from a research trip to Virginia’s Historic Triangle and the Civil War’s Peninsula Campaign I’m off again on a much shorter one. This time my journey takes me to Ft. Knox KY and the Patton Museum of Armor and Cavalry then on to the Louisville Slugger museum.

It’s not the it’s go go go in my house but I needed to an airport run and Louisville (SDF) was the least expensive one for a flight originating in Tucson AZ. I checked all of the surrounding airports-Huntington, Charleston, Columbus, Lexington, even Dayton. Louisville’s fares were about $100.00 lower that all the other cities.

It is 220 miles from my house to SDF as compared to the 120 mile to CMH or CVG but packaged with some sightseeing adventures I deemed it worth the trip.

Happy travels!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

And another good reason to consider using a local travel agent


I suppose your last option is to contact the Attorney General and try to resolve the fact that the Internet site you used to purchase your cruise vacation on has billed your credit card three times instead of just once. They don’t have a phone number listed on their flashy web site plus your emails to customer service have gone unanswered.

You’ve already invested plenty of time working with your credit card company and the issue is dead in the water.

Your sweet deal has really begun to sour.

Now if you had worked personally with a local travel agent a phone call or visit to their office probably would have corrected your “over charge” situation. There are some exceptions but most agents have the contacts and clout to correct problems or to prevent them from occurring.


Happy travels & email your question/comments to

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another good reason to use a travel agent

You've got a business meeting scheduled at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, 181 Peachtree Street NE in downtown Atlanta GA and your Internet search provided a great rate. With a few clicks the room is reserved, guaranteed to your credit card and you're all set.

Upon your arrival into Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport you retrieve your luggage and take the MARTA light rail train to the N1 downtown station. Upon exiting the train, you go toward the Ellis Street exit go up the two set of stairs or take the elevator. Once you reach Peachtree Street you turn right and the hotel is half a block on your right as the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta is at the corner of Ellis and Peachtree streets.

There is a short line in the lobby but it moves quickly. You approach the check in counter and present the hotel agent with your printed confirmation. She greets you with the legendary Ritz Carlton smile scans your document then starts to feverishly punch the keys on her computer.

After a long day of air travel and TSA security procedures you’re ready to get to your room, lose the professional business attire and relax. After what seems like an eternity to you the professional and very pleasant customer service agent explains: “I’m sorry but your reservation is for the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead GA. That hotel is located at 3434 Peachtree Road NE we are at 181 Peachtree Street NE. I’ve checked our availability and we are very over sold so there are no rooms available here. There is no way that we can accommodate at this location. I’m so sorry. I will gladly coordinate with our Concierge and arrange transportation to our Buckhead property and they will honor your reservation.”

Awed and speechless by this declaration what do you do? Who do you have to contact to correct this error? Surely you are not going to hold the person (YOU) who booked this reservation accountable.

It’s a simple mistake between Street and Road and downtown Atlanta and Buckhead. I see this common error all the time in travel. Someone wants to fly out of Charleston WV (CRW) but instead books flight departing from CHS (Charleston SC). I do not do brakes on my car and rely on a brake specialist. When my air conditioning is not working I call my A/C guy. So yes I rely on specialists and industry professionals. I learned long ago that a 2 hour home improvement project for the handy person did not equate into the same time commitment for me. When I get out of my comfort zone I seek help. That’s why your travel professional is there-to help.

The Internet is powerful tool if used properly. Most of you have good intentions but unless you deal with the travel product daily you can make the simple errors that I’ve cited above. These can end up costing you lots of dollars, plenty of time and more importantly piece of mind.

Remember that without a travel agent you are on your own!

Happy travels and email your questions or comments to me at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A good reason to use a travel agent

You just Googled "Caribbean vacations" and got 1.3 million responses. Need a little help in sorting out your choices? Got any ideas of where you can go for help?

Travel agents are there to make sure you get where you want to go, when you want to go and for the lowest price.

Be kind to your travel agent and get out of town!

Dollar menu item

During my recent travels I stopped for coffee at a Richmond VA area McDonalds and was surprised at one of their $1.00 menu items.

For a buck I could have purchased an hour of wireless Internet access. Not a bad deal but as I was traveling unplugged I enjoyed the coffee with a local newspaper instead of my laptop.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unplugged & enjoying life

For once I listened to my own advice as I unplugged for 10 straight days. No Internet, email or voice mail for this travel guy. I let my email inbox collect a bunch of junk mail (over 1500 and about 10 were legitimate) and didn’t check my voice mail at home or my office.

The good news is that I didn’t really out on anything important. 99% of my email messages were garbage plus there were no pressing phone calls.

Recharged I’m ready to tackle the balance of the summer and start preparations for fall term classes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Part time rookie travel planner part 2

More on my golfing buddy's Las Vegas trip....

Even if their connecting flight did depart from Midway the checked bags would still be an issue on this trip. There is a little known item called the “interline baggage agreement” that would come into play on this reservation. This voluntary airline agreement basically states that airline A will transfer bags onto airline B. My buddies originating discount carrier does not have any interline agreements so you check your luggage point to point or in this instance from Columbus to Chicago. Upon arrival at Midway he would have to race to baggage claim retrieve his bags then re check them with his next carrier. You need time plenty of it and unfortunately some of the bargains finding online booking engines miss this fine point and build an impossible connection.

Their return flights from Vegas were almost as bad. No change of airports this time but they had a lengthy 9 hour layover at the airport. Airports seem to go out of their way to purchase the most uncomfortable furniture available and personally I would not relish a long stop over.

The points here to reflect on are sometimes the deal is just too good to be true. Also as a novice travel planner be sure to read everything very closely. As we read over his flight itinerary it very clearly stated Chicago Midway and Chicago O’Hare airports but there was no mention of two different airports or surface travel. He openly acknowledged that all he saw was Chicago and figured he was good to go. Last point is that when in doubt defer to a professional. Frequently their advice is priceless.

Got travel questions? Email

Part time travel planner part 1

About 6 weeks ago at a golf outing my cart companion had over 4 hours to pick my mind about Las Vegas. He had never been there and once he discovered that in a past lifetime that I had been a travel agent the questions started to flow like nickel draft beers at the baseball stadium. His wife had a milestone birthday coming up and he wanted to surprise her with a trip to Nevada’s adult version of Disney.

I fielded his questions about air carriers, different departure cities, staying at a strip as compared to downtown hotels, dining experiences even optional sightseeing trips. We had narrowed it down departing from Columbus OH and identified a couple of hotels that would meet their needs. I suggested that a tour operator would probably offer the best package rates and promised to forward some tour operator’s web addresses to him. Search the web then compare your findings with a local travel agent’s package offerings was my parting advice to my friend.

We ran into each other at the grocery store last weekend and he excitedly wanted to share his findings with me. He did his research and decided to be his own travel agent and booked all of his travel requirements himself on the Internet. One website was used to book his air and another for his lodging. Yes he researched the trip with both an agent and a few tour operators but he saved about $40.00 a person by doing it his way.

Curious about the pricing difference I probed a little deeper and discovered a major problem with his flights. He was scheduled departing from Columbus into Chicago’s Midway airport then departing 45 minutes later from Chicago O’Hare airport which is located on the other side of the Windy City.

I explained that they would have to proceed to Midway’s baggage area reclaim the checked luggage, grab a cab for O’Hare then check in for their flights there. Considering the distance to be traveled via auto, Chicago’s traffic and the lengthy security screening lines at O’Hare I wished him luck. Check with your booking source and see if you can change your flight schedule was my other guidance.

After a half dozen or so email messages and a $100.00 per ticket change fee my friend got his flights straightened out. With the vacation back on track he expressed that next time he would most likely use a local travel agent. He felt that a visit to the agent’s office or a phone conversation was worth his time and peace of mind.