Our Forbes Travel Guide Inspectors’ Favorite Pool Treats

It’s safe to say that melting in the summer heat is not one of the perks of warmer weather. But posting up on a lounge chair with a fresh coat of sunscreen and a tasty treat in hand at a luxury hotel makes the scorching temperatures a bit more bearable. From the sandy shores of Hawaii to the bustling city of Baltimore, our Forbes Travel Guide inspectors have scoured the country for the best poolside offerings at top-notch hotels, and we’re here to share their picks. So grab a towel, break out the sunglasses and cool off with these refreshing pool delights.

Craving something a little different for your end of the summer vacation? Check out our blog for three hidden island escapes begging to be discovered.

Raspberry-Beaujolais-cheesecake pops at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, photo courtesy Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s waterfront location makes it an ideal spot for escaping from the rising temperatures. What makes Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore even better is its fourth-floor pool that affords pristine views of the Inner Harbor. Snag one of the sleek chaise lounges and enjoy the complimentary services provided by staff, such as sunglass cleaning and Evian spritzes. Our Forbes Travel Guide inspectors especially appreciated the delicious frozen grapes and fruit kabobs that were passed around hourly, serving as a thirst-quenching snack on a hot day. In addition to its usual perks, this summer, the Charm City hotel is offering a refreshing cocktail program—created by beverage director Tiffany Soto—with fun “poptails” (boozy popsicles) for $9 each. Fun flavors include red-white-and-blue sangria, classic mojito, raspberry-Beaujolais-cheesecake (complete with graham cracker crumbs), strawberry-sage-sauvignon blanc and Baltimore orange crush dreamsicle.

Halekulani, Honolulu
Head to Honolulu’s famous Waikiki Beach for a stay at this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, whose heated freshwater pool is a sight to be seen with its mosaic design of a Cattleya orchid, made of 1.2 million South African glass tiles. While you’re soaking up the rays, be sure to indulge in the various treats the staff distributes throughout the day. When our inspectors visited Halekulani in the spring, they were impressed with the limoncello popsicles. Now the resort provides a variety of handouts throughout the day, including fresh-baked muffins (served at 10 a.m.), ice water (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.), pineapple slices (noon) and Melona creamsicle bars in strawberry and honeydew melon flavors (2 p.m.). Staff is also at the ready with cold towels and magazines.

Push-pops at Hotel Bel-Air, photo courtesy The Dorchester Collection

Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
Saying Hotel Bel-Air has poolside pampering down to a tee is an understatement. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, located in Los Angeles’ posh Bel-Air Estates neighborhood, pulls out all the bells and whistles while you sit back and relax by its oval-shaped pool lined with stark white umbrellas and plush lounge chairs. Complimentary treats run the gamut here, including bite-sized ice cream sundaes, white and dark chocolate-dipped banana coins, frozen grape skewers, fresh fruit sorbet push-pops (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and mini lemonade slushes, among other items. You can also opt to order food from the pool menu, which is filled with plates such as Thai-style chicken salad, grilled garden vegetable pizza and sautéed Maryland crab cakes.

Acqualina Resort Spa, Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.
Retreat to Florida and soak up the sun at this glamorous beachfront resort. While the warm sand is sure to be a focal point during your vacation, the service and amenities at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s four pools make for a tempting alternative. Acqualina’s Beach Club Pool is well suited for families with little ones in tow, whereas the Tranquility Pool is an adults-only space. No matter where you choose to lay down your towel, though, the staff is on hand for beverage requests, setting up your chair and doling out tasty bites. Our Forbes Travel Guide inspectors found the mini strawberry smoothies served on a tray to be refreshing, and current offerings also include mini fruit salads, frozen lemonade, samples of sangria for adults and Rice Krispies treats for kids.

Adult Hawaiian shave ice at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s Palm Grove Pool, photo courtesy Four Seasons

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
One of the many impressive facets of this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resort is that it doesn’t just have one pool—it has seven. There’s something for everyone, whether you’d rather relax by the oceanfront Beach Tree Pool, or prefer an adults-only scene at the Palm Grove Pool. One thing is for sure, though: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai doesn’t skimp on its poolside amenities. Our Forbes Travel Guide inspectors loved the dollops of aloe handed out by staff to ward off any post-sun irritation. While the rotation of passed fruit, cocktail samplers and popsicles changes regularly, you can expect to find items such as Bloody Marys, mimosas or melon ball mojitos at the Palm Grove Pool (drinks here are made with herbs from the poolside garden), or smoothies and Evian spritzes at the family-friendly Beach Tree Pool.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2013/07/31/our-forbes-travel-guide-inspectors-favorite-pool-treats/

10 Must-Try Travel Apps

Even with all the shortcuts available today, travel requires a tremendous amount of preparation. Trips abroad introduce extra complications such as longer flights and currency exchange rates.
Details including the times you choose to visit certain attractions or directions for navigating unfamiliar territory can make or break your day.

Your smartphone can eliminate a good amount of your travel woes. Whether you need to book a last-minute trip extension, eat well during a three-hour layover or message your family back home, a smartphone app stands ready to help you become a smarter traveler.

For the early stages of your journey, download Kayak. This mobile travel app by Kayak.com helps you find hotels, price car rentals and browse flight options. With Kayak’s price comparisons, you will know whether you’re getting the best deal for each service. The app is free for iPad, iPhone, Android, Nokia and Windows Phone.

The filters in Kayak’s search option allow you to browse according to specific criteria such as where you prefer to have a layover. In the category My Trips, your travel itinerary is at your fingertips.

It’s important to note that although Kayak is a useful research tool and can be used to reserve hotel rooms and car rentals, it cannot be used to book flights. The app can be used to find the best available price, however, and will direct you to a page where a flight can be purchased.

In the latest version of the Kayak app, you can receive price alerts on your iPad for discounted flights, hotels and car rentals. Searches for cities and airports are now saved as well, so you can easily book future trips to favorite locations.

Kayak’s website has been around for eight years, but the company recently switched its focus to mobile. Now, instead of using its website to influence its mobile app, Kayak designers are doing the opposite.

“I got to the point where I actually liked [the] iPhone app better than our website, I thought it was more aesthetically beautiful,” said Paul English, co-founder and CTO of Kayak, in a statement to Gigaom. The app is easy to navigate, a quality that Kayak hopes to replicate on its website.

Travel and hotel reservations mark only the beginning of a traveler’s journey. Take a look at the rest of these travel apps. A quick download could lead to less stress during your next trip.

Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/mobility/smart-phones/10-must-try-travel-apps/240159175

Samsung Galaxy S4 to make travel easier with dual-mode LTE

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is about to become a world-class traveler.


(Credit:
Josh Miller/CNET)

Samsung plans to release new versions of its Galaxy S4 and S4 mini smartphones that can automatically switch between 4G networks across the world that use different LTE standards.

The new devices will be able to switch between networks based on the TDD (Time-Division Duplex) and FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) variants of the LTE 4G wireless technology.

Samsung says the move is designed to make it easier for travelers to use data services in different countries without disruption.

While most of the world relies on FDD-LTE, adoption of TDD-LTE is expected to grow in the U.S., China, Australia, Middle East, Northern and Eastern Europe, and Southwest Asia.

According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, the global LTE market will increase 20 percent annually on average, from 270 million devices in 2013 to 680 million devices in 2017. The TDD-LTE market is expected to take up 18 percent of the entire LTE market by 2015.

Samsung will launch the dual-mode LTE handsets in countries worldwide from the third quarter of this year.

This story originally appeared as “Samsung tweaks Galaxy S4 to make it simpler for global travellers to use 4G” on ZDNet.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57596322-94/samsung-galaxy-s4-to-make-travel-easier-with-dual-mode-lte/

Why can’t women time travel?

Poor Rachel McAdams. Three time-travel movies and not a whiff of the action. First was 2009′s The Time Traveller’s Wife, in which Eric Bana played a Chicago librarian darting through time while his on-screen wife McAdams plodded on faithfully in the present. Then, two years later, came Midnight in Paris. Owen Wilson got to party in the roaring 1920s every day of his holiday, while oblivious fiancee McAdams went sightseeing. And now Richard Curtis‘s new film, About Time, sees McAdams stay home as her partner Domhnall Gleeson goes time-travelling in secret, in a bid to change his past and have a better future. This time it’s a gift – passed down the male line of the family.

McAdams is not alone in being overlooked. From 1981′s Time Bandits to the more recent Hot Tub Time Machine, sci-fi films have rarely allowed female characters to leave the present. When Marty McFly’s girlfriend tried to come along for the ride in Back to the Future II, she was hastily sedated by the Doc for “asking too many questions”. In their excellent adventures, Bill and Ted travelled to medieval times to meet some “babes”; true, the women were then permitted to time-travel – but only with male characters, and purely to serve their needs. Hardly the sort of time-travelling role models women need.


About Time - Rachel McAdams
Always a time-travel bridesmaid … Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time. Photograph: Sportsphoto/Allstar/Universal

While many of these films are immensely entertaining, it’s a curious trend that shortchanges female characters and, by extension, female viewers. At first glance, you could simply put this down to the historical dominance of male heroes in cinema. It’s a patriarchal world and mainstream movies aren’t always quick to reflect advancements in equality. But while other areas of sci-fi were making progress – take Sigourney Weaver beating her many-jawed foes in the Alien films – the time-travel genre, ironically, stood still. Yes, as far back as 1984 The Terminator gave us a groundbreaking action heroine in Linda Hamilton, but the bouffe-haired damsel in distress was still confined to the here and now, chased by one time-traveller and bedded by the other (in order to give birth to a future saviour). And the men didn’t just get to time-travel: they got to go naked, too.

This weekend in London, there’s a whole festival dedicated to feminist sci-fi films. Called Women on the Edge of Time, it promises futuristic “worlds free of sexism”. Tellingly, time-travel movies are absent from the programme. Some might argue that the theme is just more appealing to men. But I’m sure I’m not the only woman who fell in love with time-travel movies as a kid – and I wanted to be Marty McFly, not his unfortunate girlfriend. A time-travelling heroine would have been very welcome. Nor is it just action films. In the 1980 romance Somewhere in Time, Christopher Reeve rewound to woo a bygone Jane Seymour; in 2001′s Kate Leopold, a 19th-century Hugh Jackman raced forward into the arms of a present-day Meg Ryan.

Of course, it is still incredibly hard to get funding for a mainstream film with a female lead. This might explain why two recent movies that gave women at least a look-in at time travel were independents. Safety Not Guaranteed saw a female newspaper intern responding to a mysterious man’s ad for a time-travel buddy; the whole movie turns on whether she will make the leap. Meanwhile, The Sound of My Voice featured two documentary-makers investigating a cult leader called Maggie, who claims to have come from the future to warn us about environmental issues.

Whatever the merits of these semi-exceptions, it’s worth pointing out that women just don’t get to have fun with time travel like men do; it doesn’t seem to get them anywhere. While averting some unspeakable catastrophe is a common theme in everything from The Terminator to Deja Vu, our male travellers usually get to rearrange their personal lives, too. In fact, time travel seems to offer men an extraordinary level of control, as well as the possibility of achieving some sort of perfection – not to mention getting the girl (sidepoint: gay time-travellers are even rarer than female ones). Grandpa Biff in Back to the Future II gave his younger self a vintage sports almanac, enabling him to build a corrupt empire from strategically placed bets and thereby create a parallel dystopia. His ultimate goal? A trophy wife in the form of Marty’s mother. Groundhog Day saw Bill Murray win Andie MacDowell’s hand after studying her, day after repeated day. I wonder, assuming this relationship had continued, if he would have ever told her the truth.

In About Time, Curtis plays with a similar scenario. Domhnall Gleeson not only uses his talent to woo McAdams, but also to perfect his sexual technique. Little does she know how many tries it took to wow her on their first night. Admittedly, this is one of the film’s funnier parts, but it also dupes its female lead to an uncomfortable degree, a trend that continues throughout. It’s hard to root for a relationship when one party is concealing the extent of their power over the other. Thanks to time travel, this man has the ability to change his relationship, or erase it entirely, without his partner’s knowledge.

While a similar idea became a meaty moral issue in 2004′s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in time-travel movies it’s usually just ignored or played for laughs. In fact, many time-travel heroes deceive women routinely, either for their own selfish reasons or simply mistrust. In the hands of generally male screenwriters, time travel seems to be a serious business best handled by blokes – the implication being that women are somehow too emotional to deal with it. Take the Doc’s dismissive explanation after he sedated Jennifer: “She saw the time machine. I couldn’t just leave her there with that information. Don’t worry, she’s not essential to my plan.” In last year’s Looper, Bruce Willis tampered with the past in an effort to save his future wife. But did we even find out her name? No. And did she even speak? Hardly.


Back to the Future II
‘She’s not essential to my plan’ … Elizabeth Shue, Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future II. Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex

There are mainstream exceptions, of course – but astonishingly few, given the 500 or so time-travel movies out there. In 1986′s Peggy Sue Got Married, a lone female became unstuck in time; in 1990′s Back to the Future III, the Doc allowed his wife aboard; and in 1994′s Timecop, a female agent was allowed to time travel, but always accompanied by the hero. Ten years later, Jennifer Garner woke up in the future in 13 Going On 30; that same year, Hermione briefly had the gift in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And let’s face it: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a 2006 anime adaptation of Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel, didn’t really have much choice.

But wait. This month sees the release of Teen Beach Movie, a Disney film pitched as the new High School Musical. Maia Mitchell plays Mack, a teen surfer magically transplanted – with her boyfriend – into a 1960s surf movie. Does this represent some kind of progress, however slight? Possibly. Mack scoffs at old surf movies, saying: “The girls never surf as well as the boys.” And her lesson to the unemancipated girls of the early 60s is simple: “Girls can do anything boys can do.”

Tell that to poor Rachel McAdams.

• Teen Beach Movie is out on DVD on 16 August. About Time is in cinemas from 4 September. Women on the Edge of Time is at the Horse Hospital, London WC1, Friday and Saturday.

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jul/31/why-cant-women-time-travel

How Travel To Cuba Legally And Expertly

Cuba is famous for its tobacco, and now you can visit farmers and see it close up. Photo: Ann Epting for AK

In the nearly two decades that I have been writing on travel, few destinations have interested my audience as much as Cuba – I am asked about it all the time. For sure some of this is based on the principle of forbidden fruit, and some people are interested simply because our government makes it practically impossible for most American citizens to visit the Caribbean island. But much of it is Cuba’s legitimate appeal, be it cultural, natural, musical or historical, and for a variety of reasons, there is a sizable audience of Americans who would like to visit Cuba.

Now you can.

I recently wrote a column here about the finest upscale tour operators and travel specialists in the world, and it pretty much goes without saying that Abercrombie Kent is one of those, as I pointed out. In fact, this is exactly what I said: “They have been THE leader in guided cultural and active travel worldwide for more than half a century, and have the deep connections needed to make things happen all around the world.”

AK has been granted a license by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer a people-to-people educational exchange program that adheres to the US government’s restrictions for the travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba. They are not the only tour company with such a license, but these are far from commonplace (Insight Cuba is probably the best known alternative; Friendly Planet is another). What I find notable about this development is that while the September  departure will be the first AK trip for Americans, the company’s London office has been regularly taking Europeans to Cuba for seven years, and as I alluded to above, one of AK’s biggest selling points is its contacts, expertise and ground experience. This is especially important in a country where individual US travelers cannot withdraw money, use traveler’s checks, or use credit cards. If you want to visit Cuba legally you will have to go with a tour operator anyway, so it might as well be one that is world renowned for its operations and staff.

To learn more about Cuba, read my story done in collaboration with a fellow journalist who visited last year, “Our Man in Cuba, Firsthand Reporting.”

This is a very immersive trip packed with interesting cultural experiences, and you can read the detailed itinerary and description online, but just a few highlights include:

-Experience Cuba and America’s shared passion, attending a baseball game where you meet the players and can even play a few innings. -Discuss the history of US-Cuba relations with a Foreign Service scholar in Havana -Walk Havana with a local architect, exploring historic styles and current restoration efforts. -Get a private salsa lesson from a Cuban salsa instructor -Visit a cigar factory; Explore Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; examine projects by José Fuster with the artist, followed by dinner in his home; attend an interactive cooking demonstration at a paladar, one of Cuba’s many alternative, hi-home family-run restaurants, and talk with the owners about this privately owned Cuban enterprise; meet with local musicians during a private concert and cultural discussion; and so on.

This installation is by Cuban artist José Fuster, who you will have dinner with in his home. Photo: Ann Epting for AK

It is very important to note that this special people-to-people educational exchange program is much different from other AK programs – or pretty much any sort of “vacation.” Because it is allowed as educational experience, guests must spend full, enriching days visiting and interacting with Cuban people one-on-one. The whole purpose, for the US government’s perspective, is to intimately experience the day-to-day lives of residents while learning about Cuban cultural, social and religious organizations firsthand. For this reason, all participants are required to adhere to the approved full-time schedule of activities – beg off to relax by the hotel pool and OFAC could pull the company’s license. This is not a trip to consider unless you are interested in the subject matter.

AK’s very first US departure is on September 6, 2013, with 20 more trips scheduled between now and next June. The regular price is $5,295 (For the launch, all nine September, October, November and December 2013 departures are discounted $300 when booked by August 15), plus a very reasonable $525 for a private roundtrip charter from Miami nonstop to Cuba (there is no public alternative). It’s a busy 10-day trip that spends three days in northern Cuba, staying in Cayo Santa Maria, followed by six nights in Havana and touring around, all alongside AK’s expert Cuban guides, staying at the Melia Havana Hotel. All meals, lodging, tours and transfers are included.

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Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2013/07/31/travel-to-cuba-legally-expertly/

Wife Sends Travel-Loving Husband’s Ashes In A Bottle Around The Florida …

One widow is giving her travel-loving husband a final adventure at sea.

In March 2012, Beverly Smith, 56, put the ashes of her late husband, Gordan Scott, in a bottle and tossed them off the coast of Big Pine Key, Fla., WCVB reported. With his remains were $2 and a note instructing whoever recovered the bottle to “call and tell [her] where he is.”

(Story Continues Below)
note

Beverly Smith wrote this note and put it in a bottle with her husband’s cremated remains.

Gordon Scott Smith, from Louisville, Tenn., had died at 57 from a sudden brain hemorrhage three weeks earlier, according to USA Today. But his wife honored his love for travel, and now, with the help of a few kind strangers, his memory is living on in various places across the Florida coast.

“He loved the ocean,” Beverly Smith told the paper. “I wanted to let him travel a little and let him sail away.”

Last Sunday, Judi Glunz Sydney found the bottle of ashes washed up in front of the hotel she co-owns in Key Colony Beach, Fla. She discovered both Beverly Smith’s original note, and another one from a man named Ross.

(Story Continues Below)
ashes in bottle

Judi Glunz Sydney poses with Gordon Scott Smith’s traveling bottle.

Ross, from Islamorada, Fla., about 50 miles from Big Pine Key, had been the first person to find the bottle.

“I called his wife to let her know where her husband was, and she was so, so happy,” Ross wrote in his note. “She said the money was for a phone call to let her know where he was.”

He added, “Put a new note in with him and let him travel on!”

(Story Continues Below)
note

Ross’s note

Sydney did just that. She put Smith’s ashes in a rum bottle, added her own note and another dollar bill, and wrote on Facebook that the hotel planned to have a memorial service to send him back out to sea.

note

Judi writing a note to go back out to sea.

H/T msnNOW

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Air Travel Subsidy Cap Rejected By House

WASHINGTON — The House has rejected an attempt to cut off subsidized air travel to rural towns and cities where taxpayer costs exceed $250 per ticket.

The current permissible subsidy is $1,000 per ticket. That’s forced just a handful of communities to lose service.

New reforms in a transportation funding bill being debated by the House cut those subsidies to $500 a ticket or $1,000 per round trip to airports subsidized by the $200 billion-plus Essential Air Service program.

Democratic congressman Alan Grayson of Florida sought the tighter limit but was on the losing end of the 224-191 vote rejecting it. He won support from tea party Republicans but not enough Democrats.

Grayson says it would be cheaper to hire limousines to shuttle passengers to larger airports.

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Travel To Cuba Legally & Expertly

Cuba is famous for its tobacco, and now you can visit farmers and see it close up. Photo: Ann Epting for AK

In the nearly two decades that I have been writing on travel, few destinations have interested my audience as much as Cuba – I am asked about it all the time. For sure some of this is based on the principle of forbidden fruit, and some people are interested simply because our government makes it practically impossible for most American citizens to visit the Caribbean island. But much of it is Cuba’s legitimate appeal, be it cultural, natural, musical or historical, and for a variety of reasons, there is a sizable audience of Americans who would like to visit Cuba.

Now you can.

I recently wrote a column here about the finest upscale tour operators and travel specialists in the world, and it pretty much goes without saying that Abercrombie Kent is one of those, as I pointed out. In fact, this is exactly what I said: “They have been THE leader in guided cultural and active travel worldwide for more than half a century, and have the deep connections needed to make things happen all around the world.”

AK has been granted a license by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer a people-to-people educational exchange program that adheres to the US government’s restrictions for the travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba. They are not the only tour company with such a license, but these are far from commonplace (Insight Cuba is probably the best known alternative). What I find notable about this development is that while the September  departure will be the first AK trip for Americans, the company’s London office has been regularly taking Europeans to Cuba for seven years, and as I alluded to above, one of AK’s biggest selling points is its contacts, expertise and ground experience. This is especially important in a country where individual US travelers cannot withdraw money, use traveler’s checks, or use credit cards. If you want to visit Cuba legally you will have to go with a tour operator anyway, so it might as well be one that is world renowned for its operations and staff.

To learn more about Cuba, read my story done in collaboration with a fellow journalist who visited last year, “Our Man in Cuba, Firsthand Reporting.”

This is a very immersive trip packed with interesting cultural experiences, and you can read the detailed itinerary and description online, but just a few highlights include:

-Experience Cuba and America’s shared passion, attending a baseball game where you meet the players and can even play a few innings. -Discuss the history of US-Cuba relations with a Foreign Service scholar in Havana -Walk Havana with a local architect, exploring historic styles and current restoration efforts. -Get a private salsa lesson from a Cuban salsa instructor -Visit a cigar factory; Explore Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; examine projects by José Fuster with the artist, followed by dinner in his home; attend an interactive cooking demonstration at a paladar, one of Cuba’s many alternative, hi-home family-run restaurants, and talk with the owners about this privately owned Cuban enterprise; meet with local musicians during a private concert and cultural discussion; and so on.

This installation is by Cuban artist José Fuster, who you will have dinner with in his home. Photo: Ann Epting for AK

It is very important to note that this special people-to-people educational exchange program is much different from other AK programs – or pretty much any sort of “vacation.” Because it is allowed as educational experience, guests must spend full, enriching days visiting and interacting with Cuban people one-on-one. The whole purpose, for the US government’s perspective, is to intimately experience the day-to-day lives of residents while learning about Cuban cultural, social and religious organizations firsthand. For this reason, all participants are required to adhere to the approved full-time schedule of activities – beg off to relax by the hotel pool and OFAC could pull the company’s license. This is not a trip to consider unless you are interested in the subject matter.

AK’s very first US departure is on September 6, 2013, with 20 more trips scheduled between now and next June. The regular price is $5,295 (For the launch, all nine September, October, November and December 2013 departures are discounted $300 when booked by August 15), plus a very reasonable $525 for a private roundtrip charter from Miami nonstop to Cuba (there is no public alternative). It’s a busy 10-day trip that spends three days in northern Cuba, staying in Cayo Santa Maria, followed by six nights in Havana and touring around, all alongside AK’s expert Cuban guides, staying at the Melia Havana Hotel. All meals, lodging, tours and transfers are included.

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Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2013/07/31/travel-to-cuba-legally-expertly/

How to avoid those surprising travel fees

As we too often find out when traveling these days, the cost of the trip is not necessarily the cost of the trip. Little fees, taxes, charges and surcharges pop up along the way, sometimes so often that before you’re even at your destination, your budget has been all but blown.

Keep your eyes peeled for these expensive travel fees. With a little extra effort, you may be able to avoid them.

The rental car fee: From convention center expansions in San Diego to sports stadiums in Houston and Seattle, cities are increasingly finding the airport rental car counter a swell place to pick up some quick cash to fund construction projects. At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, you’ll pay $8 per day, on top of substantial taxes and fees, so the city can build a new rental car center at the airport. In Charlotte, N.C., travelers helped build the NASCAR Sports Hall of Fame. Often, these fees show up as undecipherable line items on your final bill.

How to avoid: In many destinations, you’ll find that the overall tax burden is lighter when you rent a car at an off-airport agency location. Anyone headed to a destination that has reasonable public transit links might consider picking up the car a few stops away. You may be able to pick up a car at an in-town location and return it to the airport without an additional charge.

Britain’s departure tax: The government calls it an “Air Passenger Duty,” and it’s supposed to end global warming. Flying London to New York? As of April, those flying coach will pay about $100. Everyone else will pay just over $200. You’ll pay it even if you’re using frequent-flier miles.

How to avoid: Flying home from London by way of another destination lowers the cost of the fee; just check that it doesn’t increase the cost of the ticket, thus negating your savings. Irish airfare taxes, for instance, are much lower.

The human being fee: Looking for the best deal on your next flight? Resist the urge to pick up the phone. Many airlines will charge you a fee for tickets booked with a live human. Again, $25 (that’s what you pay for United and American, among others) may not sound like much on its own, but these things add up.

How to avoid: Book your ticket and make any changes to that ticket online. Or find out what the best fare is by talking to an agent, then hang up and book online.

Overpriced hotel parking: Overnight parking fees are the newest profit center at far too many hotels. Even city hotels are taking the explosion of overnight parking fees as a sign that it’s cool for them to drive their existing rates into the stratosphere.

How to avoid: Read the fine print before you book — particularly in cramped destinations such as San Francisco, where we’ve seen overnight parking fees hit nearly $70. Rent a car for one day at a time from a location near your hotel and return it to the rental agency at the end of the day (let them take care of the parking). Or stay in the suburbs and use public transportation. Or stay in the city and do the same.

The change fee: United and American are charging $200 to change a domestic flight and even more for international trips. If you’re looking to change an upcoming itinerary and you booked through a third-party website, brace yourself, because the site may also want to charge a change fee as well. Say you booked a flight on United from New York to Orlando, Fla., and it cost you $280. You booked it through a third-party site, say, CheapTickets. You have to change the flight because you’re needed back home a day early. The cost of the change is now almost greater than the cost of the original ticket.

How to avoid: Southwest does not charge change fees plus you have to book directly with Southwest, so there’s no issue of third-party fees. If there’s a good chance you’ll make changes, consider buying one of American Airlines’ Choice Essential fares. For a bit more, there’s no change fee, you get a checked bag round trip and priority boarding.

travel@latimes.com

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-tr-money-20130804,0,412641.story

Obama Asks Graham, McCain to Travel to Egypt

(WASHINGTON) — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Barack Obama has asked him and Sen. John McCain to travel to Egypt to urge the military to move ahead on elections.

Graham told reporters on Tuesday that the two senators were trying to work out the logistics of the trip. He said they want to deliver a unified message that the military should allow new elections.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was toppled in a military coup on July 3 and the country has been roiled by deadly protests ever since.

Graham said two Republican senators dispatched by a Democratic president would reinforce the bipartisan message that Egypt has to move to civilian control.

MORE: What’s Next for Egypt

Article source: http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/30/obama-asks-graham-mccain-to-travel-to-egypt/