Tour Operator Evaluation

December 21, 2011 on 3:20 pm | In air travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel tips, vacation travel | 2 Comments

Happy Holiday wishes to all travelers around the world.

It seems like this is the time of year when many of us start to think about taking a tour to some exotic destination next spring or summer. Perhaps it’s the cold weather and being locked inside, or the end of the year rush to get things done, but we always start dreaming about travel at this time of year and really go nuts with exploring our dreams the week after Christmas. Somewhere about this middle of this process we decide that travel is really hard work. Maybe we could find someone to do it for us, or perhaps we should take a tour. Hmmm, a tour?

For those of you considering a taking a tour might want to read our article on evaluating tour operators. If you are concerned about the financial stability of your potential tour operator (after all you will need to make a deposit to reserve your trip), you might want to see of they are a member of the United States Tour Operators Association, a trade group trying to ensure integrity in tourism. Read our article on the USTOA for more details on why booking with one of their members might be a good idea.

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Taxi Strike in Greece Causes Havoc for Cruisers

July 21, 2011 on 8:54 am | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, cruise travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, vacation travel | 2 Comments

The taxi driver strike in Greece that we reported on Monday has been extended and is causing chaos for travelers, especially those on cruise ships.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that taxi drivers have blockaded the port at Corfu and will not allow tour buses through to take the cruisers on their tour of the island. The same appears to have happened at Iraklio on Crete. Those travelers who have paid thousands of dollars for the “cruise of a lifetime” must not be too happy with the striking drivers. Finally, another set of taxi drivers have blocked major roads out of the city of Thessaloniki and similar actions are happening around the country.

Revenues from tourism have been one of the relative strengths in the economy of Greece, but the civil unrest this summer is causing a precipitous decline in these monies. Greece can be a wonderful vacation spot, but it appears that summer of 2011 may not be quite the right time for a visit.
The taxi strike must appear as a crushing blow to the many hotel chains, restaurants and tour companies that had been hoping that 2011 would be a comeback year for tourism in Greece. Unfortunately, it appears that goal will not be realized. We can only hope that 2012 is better for the country, its travel industry and for the millions of our fellow tourists interested in visiting this sometimes enchanting country.

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New Round of London Tube Strikes?

June 9, 2011 on 8:06 am | In London, London travel, ThereArePlaces.com, UK Travel, United Kingdom, air travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, vacation travel | 2 Comments

Tube drivers plan to strike the London Underground System on June 19, 27, 29 and July 1. The work stoppages will occur at various times on each of these days, although not for a complete day on any of the dates. The disruptions in Tube service are certain to bring chaos to transportation in London. See this article in the Guardian for details on the times of the strikes and the reason behind the action.

On the strike dates, travelers who rely on the Underground for travel connecting to Heathrow terminals or to trains that connect to Heathrow terminals may need to make other arrangements and should plan accordingly.

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New Travel Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Chicago

April 13, 2011 on 10:04 pm | In Chicago travel, ThereArePlaces.com, United States travel, things travelers need to know, travel guides, travel news, vacation travel | 3 Comments

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park along the Lakeshore in Chicago

Late yesterday we launched our new guide to the best places to visit in Chicago

Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, once said, “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful city left in the word.” We think Chicago is gorgeous and full of fun attractions. While creating the ThereArePlaces guide we revisited many of the places we used to frequent when we lived in Chicago and decided that the city is better than ever.

Chicago’s geographical setting is sublimely beautiful. Chicago’s planners clearly have spent a lot of time figuring out how to make the city work and they have created a masterpiece. Chicago is a wonderful place for a family vacation, offering every age group a variety of attractions that they will find appealing.

Take a look, and book your tickets, as our Chicago guide is waiting for you.

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Best Seaside Villas In Europe for Rent?

June 15, 2010 on 10:47 pm | In Europe travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, vacation travel | Comments Off

The Sunday Times (London) published a fun article last weekend on the 20 best seaside villas in Europe that are currently for rent. Although some were too expensive for us, some were in our price range and we thought that all of the properties mentioned were inviting.

We liked the sound of “16 Windmillls Greece”, although we were attracted to several others.
How about you, which one would you choose?

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Proposed New Passport Fees

March 4, 2010 on 9:04 am | In ThereArePlaces.com, US Department of State, passports, personal travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, vacation travel | Comments Off

The State Department has proposed new passport fees. You can read the entire text of the announcement here.

The paragraphs below highlight the price increases being considered.

“The proposed rule for the new passport fees was published in the Federal Register on February 9, 2010 (Public Notice 6887, Federal Register, February 9, 2010, Volume 75, No. 26, beginning at page 6321). Publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register will be followed by a public comment period of at least 30 days. The public will be notified of the date the new fees will go into effect.

View the proposed rule and submit your comment

The proposed schedule of fees for passport application services is as follows:

Total Cost: $135 for a first-time U.S. Passport Book for adults (age 16 and over)
Total Cost: $110 for U.S. Passport Book renewal (age 16 and over only)
Total Cost: $105 for a U.S. Passport Book for minors (under age 16)
Total Cost: $55 for a first-time U.S. Passport Card for adults (age 16 and over)
Total Cost: $30 for a U.S. Passport Card for adults (age 16 and over) who currently hold a fully valid U.S. Passport
Total Cost: $40 for a U.S. Passport Card for minors (under age 16)
Total Cost: $82 for additional visa pages
The fee for expedited service will remain $60.

The proposed passport “Schedule of Fees” is based on a Cost of Service Study conducted in June 2009. It’s the most detailed study the Department of State has ever conducted of its for-fee services, and represents a cost correction from the last update of the Schedule of Fees four years ago. ”

For a more informative statement on these fees, see this article from CNN.

We are not sure that CNN is correct in their analysis, as they indicate that the current fee for a first time applicant’s Passport Book is $100. However, the current fee for a U.S. Passport Book is $95 plus a $25 execution fee for a total cost of $120. The statement from the State Department on the proposed fees indicates a “Total cost” for a Passport Book under the proposed fee structure would be $135, so the increase could be $15 (over the present total cost), if the definition for “Total Cost”, as used by the State Department, includes the execution fee. We will clafify this for you when more detail is available.

There are other aspects of the proposed price increases that are draconian. As you might suspect, some of our team are among the small group who from time to time need to have pages added to their passports, since we travel a lot. In the past, we could have these pages added for free. Under the new rules is will cost $82 for this service. Wouldn’t it be easier to provide the option of a larger number of pages when the passport is issued? Oh, well, we are sure that is an argument we will not win.

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Natural Catastrophes and Travel

February 28, 2010 on 8:47 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, international travel, personal travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel warnings, vacation travel | Comments Off

As many of you may have read, Chile was struck with a massive earthquake late last week, while severe storms struck Europe this weekend, both natural events causing significant deaths and destruction. Our hearts go out to the residents of Chile and those of the European countries who are suffering from these natural disasters.

All travelers should have a mental checklist prepared for those circumstances where an event beyond your control occurs in an area in which are are traveling. Many catastrophes, such as storms, are often predictable and when you are “on the road” you should check the local weather on a daily basis. Doing so will let you know whether your plans are advisable or if you should stay put for a day or two. While most of you travel by schedule, there is no sense heading to an area that is predicted to have severe weather. Instead, cancel the reservation for your next night and find one where you currently are lodged, if you regard it as a safe destination. Always ask locals for advice – they likely have seen this problem before.

In the case of earthquakes, there is simply nothing you can do to avoid being in an earthquake. Instead, be sure to read the evacuation notices and plans posted in most hotel rooms. In addition, be sure to travel with a small flashlight for use in emergencies. Next, stick the flashlight and your room key in a pocket in your pants, along with your wallet and keep them near your bed while sleeping and the same goes for your shoes. If you need to evacuate during the night, just slip on our pants, shoes and a jacket and head out, knowing you have your money and identification, as well as a light. Many recommend keeping a bottle of water in your other pocket, backpack or purse. In other words, the Boy Scouts had it right with their “Be Prepared” motto and travelers should do the same.

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Negotiating Airport Security Checkpoints When Traveling With Kids

February 5, 2010 on 5:45 pm | In air travel, air travel security, things travelers need to know, vacation travel | 1 Comment

ThereArePlaces has added two important articles to our section on Things Travelers Need to Know about air travel. The two articles cover how to prepare for airport security if you will be traveling with kids, while the second is how to do the same when traveling with children with disabilities. ThereArePlaces based both articles on information provided, in part, by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

We hope these articles will help parents and kids get through the security checkpoints with less aggravation than seems to be the norm.

Click for the ThereArePlaces article on Parents, Kids and Airport Security Checkpoints

Click for the ThereArePlaces article on Children With Disabilities and Airport Security Checkpoints

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Forget Paris – It’s Vienna Next Spring

December 25, 2009 on 11:18 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, austria travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, vacation travel | 1 Comment

Laguna Hills, CA (ThereArePlaces) December 26, 2009 – ThereArePlaces, publisher of www.ThereArePlaces.com announced the availability of its new, online Guide to the best places to visit in Vienna, Austria. Field researched throughout November, the guide provides photos and up-to-date details on what you will see when you visit Vienna’s leading attractions in 2010, as well as detailed maps showing the locations of Vienna’s best places to visit. In addition, the Vienna Guide provides details on the Imperial City’s best sightseeing, its best cafes and sweetshops and a wonderful daytrip to Austria’s beloved Wachau, including visits to the Abbey at Melk and the medieval towns of Krems and Durnstein.

The Vienna Guide at ThereArePlaces features a daytrip to the Wachau, one of the prettiest areas in Austria

“During the last half-year, ThereArePlaces noticed a significant change in our website traffic, indicating that our visitors were focusing on researching travel information for Austria. In response, ThereArePlaces sent an editorial team to Vienna and canvassed the city, gathering the most up-to-date information on Vienna and its many attractions for tourists. The editorial team at ThereAreplaces thinks it has presented the best places to visit in Vienna in a format that will make it easy for anyone to get started planning a trip to the Imperial City, the former home of the Habsburg Empire,” said company President Mike Dobson, a seasoned travel industry executive.

Cafes, sweetshops and fantastic pastries make Vienna even more alluring and we cover the best here

Dobson continued, “Vienna has a number of interesting attractions and most travelers would be hard pressed to see even a fraction of these during a visit. ThereArePlaces has done the hard work for you and present recommendations on the best places to visit, including the best: palaces, museums, art galleries, churches, music venues, shopping, and other categories of sightseeing that might be of interest. In addition, the ThereArePlaces Vienna guide is highly illustrated with great photographs that will let you see the detail of the attractions we recommend. The detailed information we provide should allow you to decide on exploring the attractions that best meet your travel interests.”

The detailed maps used by ThereArePlaces in its Guide to the best places in Vienna make finding the leading destinations a snap

The ThereArePlaces Guide to Vienna can be found here at ThereArePlaces.

About ThereArePlaces
ThereArePlaces is a property of TeleMapics, LLC, a business focused on travel, tourism, and other location based services. Through its website http://www.thereareplaces.com the company publishes up-to-date, detailed, illustrated guides to the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Its coverage areas include: Europe, Asia, the Pacific and North America. ThereArePlaces is a travel information publisher whose commitment is to provide travel advice that might help its readers to take the journey of a lifetime.

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Avoid JFK Airport During 2010 Travel Season

November 30, 2009 on 12:37 pm | In United States travel, air travel, international travel, things travelers need to know, travel warnings, vacation travel | Comments Off

An item in the Federal Register in October was missed the major news wires, but anyone planning travel using JFK Airport in New York in 2010 should reconsider their routing. The Port Authority will remove and, then construct a runway to completley replace current runway 13R/31L. Unfortunately, this is the airport’s main runway and handles 30 percent of the facility’s traffic and will be unavailable for use during this period. The rehab job will run from March 1 through Novemeber 15 of 2010 (if it stays on schedule), although the travel flow may improve later in the reconstruction. Read more about it here or just scan the paragraph below for an overview.

If you are planning international travel through JFK next year, consider taking another route. If you cannot avoid another route, make sure your have a significant amount of time between connections.

Beginning in March 2010, there will be runway and airfield
construction at JFK that will temporarily affect operations at the
airport. Runway 13R/31L is the airport’s most frequently used and
longest runway. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port
Authority) indicates the runway historically accommodates a significant
percentage of the annual air traffic operations at JFK, particularly
departures. The Port Authority plans to resurface the runway with
concrete and widen it to accommodate new large aircraft and to help
prevent ice ingestion. In addition, the Port Authority will install new
runway lighting, electrical infrastructure, and a new electrical feeder
system to the runway. The Port Authority opted for a more extensive
rehabilitation project to provide for a 40-year design life by
surfacing with concrete instead of an 8-year design life with asphalt;
however, the project will render Runway 13R/31L unavailable from March
1 until June 30, 2010. The western two-thirds of the runway will reopen
July 1, but its use will be limited under some weather and operating
conditions, primarily because some high-speed runway turnoffs and
navigational aids (NAVAIDS) will be unavailable until later in the
construction period. On September 15, Runway 4L/22R will close until
September 30 to resurface its intersection with Runway 13R/31L. The
entire Runway 13R/31L and its associated NAVAIDS will be fully
functional on November 15, 2010.

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