Travel company offers 53-day rail trip around the world


LONDON, England (CNN) –

A 53-day journey by train might sound like murder on the Orient Express, but one enterprising British travel company is offering rail tickets that take nearly eight weeks to circumnavigate the globe.

As you’d expect for the $36,500 price tag, you won’t be spending six weeks cooped in the cheap seats listening to other people yammering into their cellphones.

The ticket offered by Great Rail Journeys is first class most of the way, crossing three continents in the kind of style you’d associate with a golden age of rail travel — albeit without the top hats and tailcoats.

En route, passengers get to experience some of the world’s most luxurious trains, including the Tsar’s Gold Private Train from Mongolia, the Venice Simplon Orient-Express and the British Orient Express Pullman.

The itinerary begins in London on May 18, 2015.

“We’ve got some pretty long journeys in our portfolio, but we’ve never done the full circumnavigation,” Julian Appleyard of Great Rail Journeys tells CNN.

Passengers will fly to New York then spend 20 days crossing North America by train.

They call in at Washington, D.C., Chicago and Denver, then sample a few classic rail rides such as Colorado’s scenic Royal Gorge route and the steam-powered Durango Silverton line.

There’s a side trip to the Grand Canyon, a sojourn in Los Angeles and a boat ride to San Francisco, where passengers take to the air once again to reach Shanghai.

Trans-Siberia line

The trip sticks firmly to the rails from then on, taking passengers from Xian, home of terracotta warriors, to Beijing, then on to Russia via Mongolia.

The journey links up with the epic Trans-Siberian line to reach Moscow before pressing on into Europe.

After calling at Warsaw, Prague, Vienna, Innsbruck and Venice, it heads back to London.

Appleyard says the company had already sold its first tickets but is planning to limit numbers to about 25 to “keep it fairly exclusive.”

“There is a huge number of people who are interested in rail as a method of travel,” he says.

“This is quite clearly the longest and most expensive trip we’ve ever done so it’s going to appeal to the wealthy and, at 53 days, people with time on their hands.”

If 53 days sounds a little on the slow side, another company offers a similar journey in reverse, via Canada, that takes a mere 40 days.

Ffestiniog Travel, based in Wales, charges $32,765 for its escorted tour starting May 3 this year.

Or you could just catch a plane.

Article source: http://www.wfmz.com/lifestyle/travel/travel-company-offers-53day-rail-trip-around-the-world/25242408

Donald S. Freeman, Jr. Appointed to United States Travel and Tourism Advisory …

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Freeman, the leading global partner for integrated marketing solutions
for live engagements, is pleased to announce that Chairman Donald S.
Freeman, Jr. has been appointed to the United States Travel and Tourism
Advisory Board. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
announced the appointment of 32 members to the Board, which serves as
the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to
the travel and tourism industry in the United States. Its members
represent a broad cross-section of the industry, including
transportation services, financial services, and hotels and restaurants,
as well as a mix of other small and large firms from across the country.

“The Commerce Department is committed to expanding U.S. exports in the
travel and tourism sector, which supports millions of jobs and is a
major contributor to our economic recovery,” said Secretary Pritzker.
“The Travel and Tourism Advisory Board is a critical public-private
partnership that helps drive growth in the travel and tourism industry.
I look forward to working with the new Board members to continue our
efforts of making America a more attractive and accessible destination.”

The Board provides advice that helps the government prioritize the
travel and tourism policies that will contribute to growth, including
enhanced visa issuance and travel facilitation, increased investment in
transportation infrastructure, and research for decision-making.
Government agencies that are part of the Tourism Policy Council,
including the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Transportation,
Interior, and others, have considered the Board’s advice as they have
worked to make progress on these issues. The Board also provided input
into the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, and its continued efforts
will play an important role in reaching the Strategy’s goal of
attracting 100 million international visitors to the United States by
2021.

“It is an honor to be selected as a member of the U.S. Travel and
Tourism Advisory Board,” said Mr. Freeman. “I look forward to working
with the board to promote the importance of this critical sector to our
country’s economy, especially as it relates to the live events industry.”

Since becoming Chairman of Freeman in 1977, Mr. Freeman has been
recognized by every major industry-related professional organization for
his dedication and commitment to promoting the development and growth of
the events and exposition industry. In 1993, Mr. Freeman was inducted
into the Convention Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders. He was also
inducted into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders in 2011.

The full list of members and other information about the Board is
available at http://www.trade.gov/ttab.

ABOUT THE UNITED STATES TRAVEL AND TOURISM ADVISORY BOARD

The United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board) serves as
the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, on
matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United
States. The Board advises the Secretary on government policies and
programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, offers
counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for
discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.

The past Board provided valuable advice on a wide area of policy areas
impacting the travel and tourism industry, including visa policy,
customer service, infrastructure, small business, communications,
research and data, and public-private partnerships. The Board provided
advice on the National Travel and Tourism Strategy (Strategy)
to the
Department of Commerce, and, through the Department to the interagency
Tourism Policy Council, informing the development of the Strategy.

The Board is comprised of up to thirty-two members appointed by the
Secretary of Commerce. Members represent companies and organizations in
the travel and tourism industry from a broad range of products and
services, company sizes and geographic locations. Members serve, at the
pleasure of the Secretary, typically for a two-year term. The Board was
originally chartered in 2003, and because of the Department’s need for
the ongoing advice from industry representatives, has been re-chartered
four times, most recently in September 2013.

Past Boards have presented Secretaries of Commerce with advice
on a wide range of policies and issues
 facing the travel and tourism
including travel facilitation, visa policy, infrastructure, aviation
security, research, energy policy, economic sustainability and the need
for a coordinated governmental strategy on travel and tourism.

The Assistant Secretary of Industry Analysis serves as the Board’s
Executive Director. The Office of Advisory Committees Industry
Outreach serves as the Executive Secretariat for the U.S. Travel and
Tourism Advisory Board. The Executive Secretariat can be reached at
(202) 482-4501 or U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue,
NW, Room 4043, Washington, DC, 20230.

Additional information on the U.S. travel and tourism industry can be
found on the website for the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, http://travel.trade.gov.

ABOUT FREEMAN

Founded in 1927, Freeman is the leading global partner for integrated
experiential marketing solutions for live engagements including
expositions, conventions, corporate events and exhibits. Headquartered
in Dallas, with over 70 offices in North America and the U.K., Freeman
produces more than 4,300 expositions annually, including 135 of the 250
largest U.S. trade shows, and 11,000 other events worldwide.
Customer-driven, Freeman offers a total package of solutions, with a
scope of products and services unmatched by the competition. An
employee-owned company, Freeman places an emphasis on respect for people
and providing unparalleled customer service. Freeman has received
numerous trade show industry awards for excellence in leadership,
creative design, community service, innovation and customer-driven
partnerships. For more information, visit www.freemanco.com.

Article source: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140331006069/en/Donald-S.-Freeman-Jr.-Appointed-United-States

No travel advised in many areas of the state

Schools across North Dakota, including Bismarck Public Schools, are closing for the day and no travel is being advised in many areas because of a spring snow storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for much of the state. Forecasters say many areas could get a foot of snow or more, with winds gusting up to 50 mph.

The heaviest snow is expected in eastern North Dakota, which could get us much as 20 inches.

The state Agriculture Department and the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association are urging ranchers to get their livestock into sheltered areas. A blizzard that struck early last October hit ranchers in the southwestern part of the state hard, with cattle losses estimated at more than 1,000.

Bismarck Public Schools, Shiloh Christian School and the University of Mary canceled classes on Monday.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation along with the North Dakota Highway Patrol have lifted the No Travel Advisory for portions of southwest and north central North Dakota including the cities of Beach, Dickinson, Richardton, Beulah, Garrison, Parshall, Velva and surrounding areas.

A No Travel Advisory remains in effect for areas west of Bismarck, Center, and areas in northeast North Dakota including Carrington, Devils Lake, Langdon, Grand Forks, Drayton and surrounding areas due to blowing snow creating near zero visibility and snow covered roads causing hazardous driving conditions. Motorists should not travel in areas included in the No Travel Advisory.

In addition, a Travel Alert is in effect for areas east of Bismarck, Steele, Jamestown, Valley City, Ellendale, and areas south of US Highway 2 near Grand Forks including Thompson, Northwood, Hatton and surrounding areas. Conditions in these areas include reduced visibility and snow covered roads. A Travel Alert means conditions are such that motorists can still travel in these areas, but should be advised of rapidly changing conditions. Motorists are encouraged to reduce speeds and drive according to the conditions

A Travel Alert means conditions are such that motorists can still travel in these areas, but should be advised of rapidly changing conditions. Motorists are encouraged to reduce speeds and drive according to the conditions

All travelers are encouraged to monitor road conditions as weather conditions occur and use caution while traveling. For road information, call 511 from any type of phone or go to the website: www.dot.nd.gov. NDDOT releases information to inform the public about travel conditions throughout the state. The three categories are as follows:

Counties issuing travel advisories are: Wells, Walsh, Williams, Billings, McKenzie, and Oliver.

Article source: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/bismarck/no-travel-advised-in-many-areas-of-the-state/article_aeeec57e-b8c6-11e3-8763-001a4bcf887a.html

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Time Travel Is All Around Us on This Week’s ‘Cosmos’

This week’s episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey really honored the “spacetime” component of the series’ title. Veering away from the science history vignettes of recent episodes — but not their anti-creationist campaign — the fourth episode in the rebooted series was all about the laws of physics, and what happens when they’re broken. 

What if everything that is happening has already happened?

Danielle: I have to say that I think this week’s episode was the most informative so far. Neil deGrasse Tyson is clearly a very gifted teacher, and his explanation of Einstein’s principles of relativity was illuminating. And the approach looking at how time travel works in the context of the space-time continuum, and the types of illusions we confront each day was captivating. This was also the first time he threw some hard math our way, which I enjoyed. Plus black holes are cool, and imagining what happens within a black hole is also cool.

Abby: So first of all, I’m pretty sure this week’s episode means that Neil deGrasse Tyson is a Time Lord. The science fiction portion of the show — where Tyson slides from what we know about black holes to the coolest things we can plausibly imagine about them — was a much-needed demonstration of educated fantasy. 

Danielle: I don’t actually know anything about string theory, but this is a broad strokes explanation of string theory, right? Black holes could potentially break the laws of physics, and possibly act as a portal to other universes, or times, or dimensions? Okay I’m going to go reread Flatland and then A Wrinkle In Time, brb.

Abby: Yes, good, me too. I think you’re correct, although I too have a giant string theory blind spot. I know commenters on the internet are really reluctant to tell someone they’re wrong about something, now might be a good opportunity to try that out, people. 

Danielle: Speaking of fantasy and fiction, Tyson again threw some shade at anti-evolutionists, saying that to believe that the universe is between 6,000 and 7,000 years old “is to extinguish the light from most of the galaxy.” He’s targeting young-earth creationists here, who believe that the world is 6,500 years old  but this would, logically, mean that we would only be able to see stars that were formed 6,500 years ago, which isn’t the case. It’s a standard argument, but Tyson delivers it with flair, and the earlier part of the episode really sets him up to authoritatively rule out any possibility of a young earth.

Abby: He’s also setting up a really interesting comparison: viewers, which universe do you want? The disproven, small universe of the young-earth creationists that could only extend to the crab nebula and back (a tiny portion of the milky way galaxy) or the one with galaxies billions of years older than the earth itself, with black holes leading to an extraordinary unknown? 

Danielle: Exactly. Tyson still presents science as a nearly-mystical pursuit. The show opens with cartoon William Herschel (who discovered Uranus and apparently was also a musician) talking about ghosts — planet ghosts, it turns out. Which takes us into time travel, which takes into spacetime, etc. The idea of science as belief in the extraordinary is highlighted, once again. Four episodes in, I think it’s safe to say that this is a Theme of Cosmos.

Abby: Yes, for sure. Tyson is asking mystical question and providing scientific — or at least science-based — answers. Not to get too academic, but this episode actually reminded me a little of St. Augustine’s theories of time and memory. He divided time up into memory, experience, and expectation, or ”a time present of things past; a time present of things present; and a time present of things future.” He does this to bracket out our understanding of “time” from what Augustine, who was after all a Bishop, believed to be a defining characteristic of God: an eternalness. For Augustine, there was no literal act of “creation” of the universe — it is a unified act with the rest of the universe. Although obviously science leads to somewhat different conclusions and priorities than those of Augustine’s, it felt like Tyson was answering or wondering about the same questions. 

Danielle: That’s an interesting point, and is in keeping with the show’s openness to different approaches to science and learning. I don’t think that the show is anti-religion at all, I think it’s anti-bias and anti-closed-mindedness, and I wonder if an allusion to religious texts is intentional.

On an unrelated note, the graphics in this episode are amazing — especially when it came to the black hole stuff. But also the more mundane things were pretty cool, like New York City in zero gravity and hyper-gravity, and that girl riding her motorbike at super-high speed. That scene was especially cool because of all the music.

Abby: … 

Danielle: Okay no, the music was pretty silly. And I wasn’t crazy about the live-action science scenes. The cartoons can be a bit awkward but the “scientist-writing-science-things-with-a-quill” thing is definitely hackneyed and worse. I am happy, however, that the show seems to take great care to note when there’s no historical record of what someone actually looked like — as with John Marshall, except for a description of him as “a short little man of black complexion and fat,” which is a pretty good detail.

Abby: Given our discussion last week about the show’s limitations when it comes to the history of science, their adherence to not imagining the faces of those who left no record of them is kind of amusing to me. But at least Marshall was not, a la last week’s Hooke, turned into a hunchbacked villain.  

Danielle: Poor Hooke, that was unfair. Should we talk about Tyson on the bicycle? It’s this episode’s Tyson-with-a-baby, except I think it might be better because it’s in Italy and ends with a picnic and an old book. Clearly this show knows what it’s audience wants.

Abby: Yes. I would like a picnic with Tyson, and then he can explain to me how I go back in time to meet Carl Sagan. Good idea. 

Danielle: That was basically the implication, right? Tyson ends the episode talking about our possible ability to travel back into time, which I assumed would mean more picnics with scientists like Tyson and Sagan.

But what does the Internet think?

Danielle: I really appreciated the academic tone of this episode, and I wasn’t the only one:

 Everyone was very sensitive to the creationist jab:

And, as always, @NASA and @COSMOSonTV had some pretty great complementary info: 

What we learned: 

Danielle: This was a major connecting-the-dots episode for me. I knew what light-years are and what gravity is and how black holes work, mostly, but I couldn’t have explained to you how and why those are all connected. I probably couldn’t explain it now, either, but this episode presented the information in a way that really made it click for me. It was satisfying in the way that solving algebra problems is satisfying, you know?

Also, I did not know that Patrick Stewart was apparently a guest on this episode. I somehow totally missed that. 

Abby: I knew I recognized that voice! He played William Herschel, in what I thought was the best use of animation so far in the Cosmos reboot. 

Click through for our thoughts on episodes one, two, and three

Article source: http://www.thewire.com/culture/2014/03/neil-degrasse-tyson-says-time-travel-is-all-around-us-on-this-weeks-cosmos/359881/

US State Dept. Issues Travel Warning For Ukraine, Then Promotes It For …

The Department disseminated a travel warning on March 21 urging U.S. citizens to “defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine,” and to “defer all travel” to the Crimean Peninsula and eastern regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk. It said the Embassy’s ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Ukraine was “limited,” and that commercial air travel into and out of the country could be delayed or cancelled with little or no notice.

“The Department of State urges U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Ukraine to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety,” officials warned. “While the transition to a new government has been largely peaceful in most parts of Ukraine, the potential for violence between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian groups still exists.

“Since February 27, demonstrations and clashes have occurred in several cities in Ukraine, some of which were violent and resulted in deaths and injuries. Additionally, groups advocating closer ties to Russia have taken on a more strident anti-American tone.”

Yet, in an apparent about face, the Department of State issued a Twitter post three days later urging Americans not to believe disinformation about the situation in Ukraine. It tweeted, “Chaos on the streets of Kyiv? This is the reality,” attaching a link to a YouTube video from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev declaring the city safe for visitors.

“We decided to walk around the city and here is what we saw: people running around doing errands, strolling, relaxing, taking photographs and even looking for new places to explore in Kiev,” the narrator of the four-minute video explains, adding that public transport is working fine, restaurants are open and cultural events are going on as planned.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told the Washington Free Beacon, which first noticed the apparent mixed message, that the video was an effort to combat “Kremlin propaganda.”

“It is meant as a vivid counterpoint to the lies and disinformation being spewed forth by Moscow,” Harf said. She noted that the travel warning and video should be viewed separately.

“The video is not a travel ad — it is a rebuttal to Kremlin propaganda. It was meant to counter Russian claims that Kiev and Ukraine is somehow in the throes of lawless, nationalist thugs looking to persecute Russian-speaking minorities. The video simply shows a nice, calm spring day in Kiev, where Ukrainians of all walks of life are going about their business.”

Regardless of its intended purpose, the video has left many foreign policy observers confused. It was the Department of State, after all, who warned Americans just days earlier to “keep away from the downtown areas of Kiev near Independence Square and government buildings” because the situation was “unpredictable and could change quickly.”

Have a look at the video from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev below, which affirms just the opposite: That Kiev, for the most part, has remained predictable and unchanged:

Article source: http://www.ibtimes.com/us-state-dept-issues-travel-warning-ukraine-then-promotes-it-american-tourists-1564975

Ticket And Travel Information For NCAA Men’s Final Four

March 30, 2014


STORRS, Conn. –
The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team will play in the NCAA Final Four and meet Florida in the national semifinals on Saturday, April 5 at 6:09 from North Texas at ATT Stadium. The national championship game will be played on Monday, April 7.

Current UConn Club members can order travel packages and/or tickets on Monday, March 31.

Orders can be placed by phoning 1-888-GO- UCONN (468-2666) or online at UConnHuskies.com following the schedule below:

Donor Category: Call In Time

Hall of Fame, Legend, and Champion: 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

All- American: 10:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

MVP: 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Golden Husky: 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Director: 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Coach, Assistant Coach and Captain: 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Ticket prices are $315 (including all fees) for the Final Four ticket package which includes both semifinals on Saturday and the national championship on Monday.

Full air packages and hotel packages will be available.

The NCAA selects the hotels and assigns each school an allotment of hotel rooms for the Final Four. UConn has a large block of rooms at the “Official Team Hotel” for our loyal donors.

The University is responsible for any unsold rooms. In order to satisfy the NCAA hotel room mandate for the Final Four, fans purchasing game tickets will be required to purchase a hotel room(s).

To view ticket and travel package information CLICK HERE.



Article source: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/033014aac.html

Fiji travel ban lifted on promise of election

Australia and New Zealand have lifted all travel restrictions on senior Fijian officials ahead of the south Pacific nation’s planned September general elections.

The bans were imposed eight years ago following a coup led by military strongman, Frank Bainimarama, who last week set September 17 as the election date.

“We are confident that lifting travel restrictions will lay a framework for closer dialogue and cooperation with Fiji on bilateral and regional issues,” said Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister.

“The decision is in line with the Australian government’s policy of re-engagement and normalisation of bilateral relations with Fiji,” she added.

New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, Murray McCully, said Fiji’s progress towards “free and fair” elections deserved recognition from the international community.

“New Zealand will be ending all the remaining travel sanctions we have in place against Fiji,” he said.

“This is a continuation of our policy to support Fiji’s return to democratic rule and reflects our close co-operation with Australia on matters relating to Fiji,” McCully said.

The travel sanctions, in place since the December 2006 coup, applied to Fiji’s self-appointed Prime Minister Bainimarama, government ministers, military personnel and their families, and other government appointees, including the judiciary.

190

Article source: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2014/03/fiji-travel-ban-lifted-promise-election-20143312330463206.html

Travel startup specializes in complex trips

If you’re tired of the cold and want to get away to someplace — maybe several places, all on the same trip — a new website offers the kind of one-stop shopping that many travel sites aren’t designed to handle.

TripzonTravel.com helps you customize a trip with as many destinations as you like, allowing you to both plan and book multiple flights, hotels, car rentals and activities all on the same site.

“We’re like an electronic travel professional for people who prefer to do it on their own,” said Tripzon founder Christopher Bensley.

After 20 years of working in the travel industry, Bensley never imagined planning a vacation to Costa Rica for his own family would take him weeks of research.

He had to make transactions on six different websites, and when travel dates had to shift by two days, he found the hotels rooms he’d wanted weren’t available, so his search started over.

“I thought, there’s got to be a better way,” said the 53-year-old Boston native.

So he raised $800,000 from family, friends and angel investors — many of them fellow Dartmouth College alumni. And, with a handful of programmers led by one engineer, he developed three different websites: TripzonTravel for travelers, TripzonPro for travel agents and TahitiJourneys for boutique travel to the South Pacific.

What they all have in common is a web application that puts all the information in one place, allowing for customization and multiple transactions.

What makes them different from the big travel search engines is that they use multiple suppliers and have a trip-building tool that allows you to specify your destinations and then add flights, hotels, car rentals, activities and transfers, Bensley said, or you can modify one of Tripzon’s pre-designed trips to suit your preferences.

You also can pay for different parts of a trip at different times. To guarantee availability, for example, you can pay for your hotel rooms far in advance, and then add activities and transfers later.

Last fall, Tripzon was one of the top 26 startups in the MassChallenge accelerator and competition, winning free mentoring and office space in Boston’s Innovation District.

To date, the company has booked more than 50 trips and made more than $100,000 in revenue and plans to grow its base of users by partnering with tour operators, cruise lines and event planners, Bensley said.

Article source: http://bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2014/03/travel_startup_specializes_in_complex_trips

Best rewards cards for travelers

Frequent business traveler Frank Lee spent a lot of time researching credit cards to use for travel expenses before selecting his current favorite: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa.

“It does not charge foreign-exchange fees, has a great rewards program and is accepted everywhere,” said Lee, the president of a sales training company in Flower Mound, Texas, and a USA TODAY Road Warrior who voluntarily provides travel information. “It also has a great fraud-prevention department.”

Frequent fliers are regularly being targeted with credit-card offers and face a difficult task deciding which one is best for their needs. There are scores of cards to choose from and an ever-changing number of terms that apply.

Consumer finance site ValuePenguin.com may provide guidance. Its experts analyzed about 70 credit cards and chose nine favorites for business travelers.

“High-volume travelers who aren’t earning travel rewards from credit cards are simply missing out on free money,” said ValuePenguin.com CEO Jonathan Wu. “Whether it’s attaining additional status, squeezing out additional savings, or earning a free flight or hotel stay, the right credit card can mean hundreds of dollars in rewards for business travelers.”

Credit-card expert Jason Steele of Credit.com said it “absolutely makes sense” for frequent business travelers to use travel-related credit cards if they “pick a card wisely” and they or their company pays the monthly balance in full.

“You are leaving money on the table if you don’t hold a card,” he said.

Wu’s favorites include the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, Lee’s Chase Sapphire Preferred and the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest.

The Barclays’ Arrival World MasterCard provides “a high rewards rate regardless of what you spend your money on,” and rewards can be used for any travel expense, Wu said.

The card — which has an $89 annual fee and a 14.99% to 18.99% annual percentage rate of interest — provides two miles per $1 spent on all purchases. Among other benefits, it offers reimbursement for expenses related to delayed or lost baggage, trip-cancellation coverage and $200,000 in travel accident insurance.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card allows holders to use reward points for any travel expense or to transfer them to partner airlines and hotels for greater value, Wu said.

The card has an annual fee of $95 and a 15.99% annual percentage rate of interest. It gives two points per $1 spent on restaurants, travel and transportation, and three points per $1 spent on travel and transportation booked via Chase’s Ultimate Rewards website.

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card has a cheaper annual fee — $65 — and a 15.24%-19.24% annual percentage rate of interest. The card provides two points for each $1 spent at participating Starwood hotels and one point for other purchases.

Of ValuePenguin.com’s nine favorite cards, two — BankAmericard Travel Rewards and American Express Blue Sky — charge no annual fee.

All nine cards that ValuePenguin.com chose as its favorites offer generous rewards, Wu said.

“When it comes to credit-card rewards, travel credit cards are among the most lucrative,” he said. “Travel rewards cards can earn more than 2% back on all your spending.”

Article source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2014/03/30/travel-reward-cards-value-penguin/6862861/

AARP Travel Dream Vacation Sweepstakes: Last day to enter to win cruise for two

If taking a cruise to Alaska with someone you love for free tops your vacation wish list this year then today is the day to register to win a free cruise for two from AARP’s Travel Dream Vacation Sweepstakes. The entry period for this freebie vacation ends on March 30, 2014, according to AARP’s official contest rules. So it is the very last day to enter. But you have to be at least 45 years old to enter to win.

You will not have to wait too long to know who wins, like with some sweepstakes prizes advertised from other companies. And that’s because a winner will be chosen for this particular travel prize as early as Monday, March 31. The company will have eight more weeks of vacation travel giveaway opportunities to make and then they will announce the winner from each of their 10 vacation giveaways.

So while you may have missed your chance to enter for the European river cruise during week one, you can still enter at least one day for this Alaskan cruise opportunity. And USA Today reported on Friday that if you fly Alaska Air for your Alaskan trip vacation you will be glad to know that they are adding nonstop service to more cities on their route network later this year.

If Alaska vacationing isn’t for you, there are other vacation giveaways that will be, like the trip to London and Italy, or the Rockies trip, or you could enter to win a Disney World trip, a Las Vegas trip, as well as a chance to go to the Riviera Maya, take a California road trip, or go on a Caribbean cruise–or even fly to Hawaii for a vacation.

Ground transport to and from an airport near your home and the destination site (and paid hotel accommodations, as well as paid round-trip airfare), is included in trips won that require those travel arrangements. And car rental fees and hotel expenses are paid for trips not requiring flight to and from the vacation destination, like with the California road trip vacation.

In some cases, gratuities and meal expenses are paid in advance, such as in the instance of cruises. And in other instances dining plans and ticket costs are provided in the vacation package deal, like with the Disney World trip.

If you would rather have the money to take your own big-city vacation, attend a VIP sporting event, or enjoy a five-star skiing trip, then Publishers Clearing House is trying to make those dream vacations come true for their game-playing, magazine-buying customers of their PCH dot com website.

Deadline for entry in the PCH travel sweepstakes was March 31, as of their official rules on Friday, but this weekend they changed the award date to June 30 instead. This is the second time in three months that they have done that, so maybe they have chosen a winner for that money now, and they plan to award it soon, choosing to also offer another person the chance to win the same amount in the months ahead.

Article source: http://www.examiner.com/article/aarp-travel-dream-vacation-sweepstakes-last-day-to-enter-to-win-cruise-for-two