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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the road

I'm off to an educational conference so I may or may not be on the Net. It all depends on the connectivity of my hotel and the cooperation of my laptop.

Happy travels!

Identity requirements for foreign travel

I was recently asked about foreign travel and what documents were required. Today it is a two part answer based on when you are planning to travel.

Currently ALL U.S. citizens must show proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean by land or sea.

Acceptable documents include: U.S. Passport Book, U.S. Passport Card, or other document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. citizens who do not have a single document verifying identity and citizenship must present both an identification and citizenship document; for example, a driver’s license and a copy of a birth certificate or naturalization certificate.

Unless the federal government changes its position again on June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate, or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card.

For additional information on travel documentation requirement you can visit Locally most post offices can also answer questions and process your passport applications.

Got travel questions? Email

Happy travels!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Not all hotel websites are equal

Anymore if I am going to be gone on a weekend or longer journey and have an early morning flight departure I will book a stay park and fly package at an airport hotel. For me this saves wear and tear on the body plus the longer I’m gone the more cost effective it becomes. Frequently what you will spend on accommodations is equivalent to what you would have spent on just parking.

On an upcoming 6:00am departure out of Port Columbus Ohio (CMH) airport I needed to book lodging for the evening before the flight. For this need I decided to shop a few hotel only websites that I was not familiar with. These are some of more aggressively marketed, heavily promoted and widely advertised sites so I wanted to give them a test browse and compare rates with other sources.

I did discover some interesting similarities about how they presented their rate quotes. I would almost call their displays deceptive and misleading. Almost a bait & switch tactic which in most places is illegal.

Let me explain this claim further. I typed in my search criteria-the airport name/code the arrival and departure date then submitted it. The initial display screen had a few hotels that were in the ballpark of daily rate that I wanted to pay so I clicked on the respective properties. Then the surprises started.

I was presented with the actual rates and availability that applied for the dates requested. The rates had drastically changed. I was puzzled why I had started with a $79.00 a night rate and was now looking at $139.00 a night.

I back arrowed to the original search page and reread the information a couple of times. Then I had my epiphany “Ah Ha” moment! I had misread the “average” rate and interpreted it to be the offered rate for my request. The $79.00 a night rate was the average rate over a period of who knows how long. Now it all made sense to me.

In my search process I had checked a few of the airport hotel websites before going to the 3rd party ones. What initially looked like a deal on the 3rd party sites was actually the same rate that was available directly from the hotel’s website. Actually booking on the hotel web site was a better deal because of the bonus frequent travel points and room upgrade that they were offering.

Being a good comparison shopper I performed diligent research then make an informed buying decision. Or better yet call your travel agent.

Happy travels!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who uses travel agents?

Someone recently asked: Who really uses travel agents these day. Hasn't everything moved to Internet based sales?

My response is that travel agents are still the leading distributors of travel products and services.

Travel agents sell:

87% of cruises
81% of all tours and packages
51% of all airline tickets
47% of all hotel stays
45% of all car rentals

Agents are the only unbiased professionals who can sort through nearly 100,000 daily changes in airfares alone.

My source was the 2004 Travel Industry Survey/Travel which provides some dated data but we haven't really seen drastic percentage shifts in the distribution patterns.

I am going to do some investigating and try to obtain more current data which I'll share.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The world is on sale! What are you waiting for?

Travel is still one investment that offers a great return. Cruises, air fares, package tours to just about any destination are offering exceptional discounts.

Plan on reinvesting your tax return on the trip of a lifetime. Call a travel agent or visit a travel website today!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Southwestern Ohio Presidential tour ideas

In the spirit of today’s Presidents’ Day holiday let’s fire up the tour mobile and head down the Ohio River to Ohio’s Brown and Clermont County for “A Land of Grant” tour. We’ll be stopping at 3 locations honoring Civil War general and our 18th president Ulysses Simpson.

The Land of Grant Tour takes us to Grant's Boyhood Home and the Grant Schoolhouse both located in Georgetown OH and his birthplace nestled on the banks of the Ohio River at Point Pleasant OH.

These venues are easily accessible from the Tri-State and with travel time I’d plan on a solid half day trip. All three sites are operated by the Ohio Historical Society.
If you can make it a full day of touring there are plenty of Underground Railroad sites, covered

bridges even a quilt barn self driving tour. Visit the Brown County tourism and/or Clermont County tourism offices for more information.

Happy travels.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Island Love Affair

The small islet of Galesnjak has recently come to prominence after its unusual shape was highlighted on Google Earth.

Even the owner of the uninhabited island - now known as Lovers' Island - didn't realize how perfectly heart-shaped the island off the Croatian coast was until he was swamped with requests from couples to stay there. It seems many lovers from around the world consider it the ideal spot for a romantic Valentine's Day break.

The island is located in Zadarski Kanal between Zadar and the Island of Pasman.

Croatia tucked along the magnificent Adriatic seacoast is ranked as the 18th most popular tourism destination in the world, proving especially busy during the summer months. It offers splendid history and heritage and sits near the crossroad of where Europe meets Asian and Middle Eastern culture. Somewhat off the beaten path for North American travelers cruise tours offered by Costa and MSC Cruise Lines are popular with Americans visiting this region.

Happy travels!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cruise itineraries

As a cruise traveler you have plenty of warm weather itineraries to select from. Some of the most popular 7 day sailings are termed Eastern, Western or Southern Caribbean cruises.

Eastern itineraries tend to visit the ports of the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and St Martin/Maarten. Western sailings tend to visit Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Southern Caribbean cruises generally originate in San Juan and sail to lower Caribbean islands like Antigua, Aruba, Grenada, Barbados and so forth. Longer sailings combine the various itineraries and permit you to visit more islands.

Shorter 3 or 4 days cruises tend to visit the islands of the Bahamas. You also have some specialty cruises that sail to Bermuda or down the Pacific coast of Mexico.

The itineraries and ports of call are one of the factors that I consider when selecting a cruise line. Many other items also impact my buying decision but I’m normally looking to visit new islands and destinations.

I research the both cruise line web sites for specials and itineraries. is a great resource and a great place to go for detailed information. Destination wise I start at and then click through to specific islands and locations.

Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Delta Queen's last voyage

The steamship Delta Queen is scheduled to arrive today Wednesday February 11th in Chattanooga TN. This historic vessel that has graced many of our Ohio River port cities may be completing her last voyage when she ties up today.

She departed New Orleans February 4th on a voyage that could close the final chapter in the vivid history of overnight steamboat travel on the Mississippi River system. Due to her wooden construction and the loss of a Congregational safety exemption she for a final tie with plans to develop her into a historic, floating boutique hotel.

The Delta Queen’s historic 865-mile journey has taken her across the Intercoastal Waterway and then up the Mobile River, the Tombigbee River, through the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to the Tennessee River and then finally upstream to Chattanooga. The historic journey has passed ports of call like Mobile, AL; Demopolis, AL; Columbus, MS; Florence, AL; Decatur, AL; Huntsville, AL; Guntersville, AL; and South Pittsburg, TN. A daily journal of the trip with video highlights will be posted from onboard the Delta Queen (internet service permitting) at

There is a grass roots movement to Save the Queen and restore her exemption which would permit her to continue plying the inland waterways of America’s heartland. Visit to discover how you can get involved.

Happy travels.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cruising and motion discomfort

The cruise questions continue to sail into my email inbox. Here’s one Sally from Kenova asked: “What about getting sea sick? I’ve heard that it is common occurrence on board a cruise ship”.

Sally the story that just about everyone gets sea sick is a myth. I won’t deny that some people may experience motion discomfort but the odds are you won’t. If you can travel in the back seat of a car through the windy roads of the Tri-State then chances are very good that the motion of the cruise ship will not affect you.

The party cruises out of Myrtle Beach and the U.S. Navy’s ships are not designed for passenger comfort and you will experience the motion of the ocean. It’s not a fair comparison between leisure vessels and today’s mega liner.

Today’s state-of-the-art mega gross-ton ships are huge, equipped with stabilizers, which makes cruising much different and more comfortable than before. With modern navigation equipment the ships can sail around bad weather and high seas instead of sloughing through it.

Another way to greatly reduce the impact of the ocean is to sail on the calmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Coastal Alaskan and Mexican Rivera sailings also hug the coast lines which reduces the impact of the ocean’s current. If you this is your first cruise and you still have doubts avoid the more open water sailings like New York City to Bermuda. There’s plenty of open water between ports which can mean more pitch and roll.

In the outside chance of motion sickness, there are many proven methods to remedy the situation. There’s always a physician and nurse on board available to help if needed.

There are plenty of over the counter medications and alternative treatment methods like acupressure bands. Discuss these treatments with your pharmacist and/or travel agent.

Keep firing away with your questions to

Happy travels.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Another cruising question: What's a guaranteed upgrade?

My email inbox has had a few questions concerning vacations at sea. Here's one on cabin categories.

Nikki from South Point asks: “Thanks for sharing your tips on cruising. They’ve come in handy as my fiancé and I search for our honeymoon cruise but we’ve encountered a term that we really don’t understand. Our travel agent offered us rates for a balcony, window and windowless room then also mentioned a category guarantee. We just didn’t follow what she was saying? Can you tell us what a guaranteed cabin is”?

In my opinion a guaranteed cabin is one of the best values in cruising if you’re willing to gamble on your cabin location. By booking into a category guarantee you could end up a big winner. For example you pay for an inside windowless cabin the least expensive one on a specific sailing date. The cruise line guarantees that at a minimum you’ll get that cabin type but they may upgrade you to a better cabin location. This means you pay for the minimum cabin and at the very least you’ll receive that cabin type but I’ve seen passengers pay for a windowless room and get upgraded to outside staterooms, balcony cabins and even suites!

When you book a cruise you reserve a specific type of cabin let’s say that it is an inside windowless room and the cruise line assigns a specific cabin number to your reservation. Unlike a hotel room where you don’t know your room number until you check in you’ll know in advance that you will be staying in Upper Deck stateroom 122 the least expensive available inside windowless room.

Opt for the guarantee and you may receive a better cabin type and location. Guaranteed upgrade policies varies among cruise companies but many will reward you (upgrades) by booking into this fare category. You normally will not know your specific cabin assignment until a week or so prior to sailing but I feel that rewards are worth the wait.

Personally I believe that you are sailing for activities that mainly occur outside of your cabin so location doesn’t matter that much. Save on your cabin fare and use that money for shore excursions, spa treatments and so forth.

I you believe this guaranteed program gives the cruise company the flexibility to sell more of their lower priced cabins and then fill the unsold inventory of higher priced cabins with those of you that booked into an upgradeable stateroom category.

If I haven’t cleared this up shoot me another email at . Please include a phone number and I’ll give you a call. Sometimes you just can’t beat talking about a topic.

Happy travels!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Some reader's questions

Here's a recent email: I am a single woman, age 60ish, recently unemployed but looking to travel the rest of my years away on a limited budget. I am now traveling the east coast of Florida and am going to check for last-minute cruise deals to the Bahamas or the Caribbean for a 3-5 day cruise. Any suggestions? My thought now is also turning toward working on a cruise ship. How would I go about applying for work aboard a cruise ship? My third question is: what about obtaining free airfare for delivering packages for companies? How do I go about finding this information and how to make contacts. I enjoy your site and have much to learn from your experiences. I greatly appreciate any suggestions you can give me. Thanks! On the road in FLA

Dear on the road in FLA:
There's a cruise company, Discovery Cruises, that basically shuttles between Ft. Lauderdale and Freeport in the Bahamas. You can enjoy a cruise like atmosphere on the voyage. They offer inexpensive transportation and then you can spend a few days at a hotel in the Bahamas. Visit

For land visit and follow the links to New Providence Island-Freeport.

As far as last minute cruises the best way is to check the cruise line webs or pick up a Sunday FLA paper and see if there are any agencies advertising cheap last minute FLA. departures.

Concerning a job with the cruise lines if you're in Miami stop by the headquarters of Carnival, Royal Caribbean & Norwegian Cruise Lines. Or apply online at their websites look under the career-jobs-employment links.

Your question about free air refers to the courier business and I haven't heard much about it recently.

Technology has replaced much of the old personal delivery system but I'll keep my eyes & ears open.

Happy travels.