Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Decline to Recline: Save the Coach Class Experience

As a frequent flyer, I am following the recent recliner fights with interest. If you are an occasional flyer, you may be oblivious or unconcerned about issues regarding personal space on a plane, because it doesn't really matter to you that much. But when you are a frequent flyer--flying one or more times a week as I define it--little things become personal, and perks make all the difference between a sane and insane experience. You spend so much time in the air you really need things to go smoothly.

I fly often enough that I am frequently upgraded to first class with no extra charge. When this happens, all is great. You have all the room you need and are pampered with drinks and snacks and personal attention from the flight attendant.

But other times I am not upgraded and am stuck in coach class. So I have become expert at trying to make this more workable. Here is what I try to do:

* Get an aisle seat (even though I prefer window) near the front of the plane, so you can get off faster and make your connection on time.
*Get a free emergency exit seat if possible because you get more leg room.
*Take carry-on luggage that will fit under the seat in front of you, so you don't have to put it in an overhead bin, and you have easy access to it during the flight and when you deplane.
*Try to have what you are going to read or work on in your hands as you sit down, so you don't have to dig in your carry-on luggage.
*Wear layers. In first class, you get a blanket, but in coach you have to fend for yourself. Usually it is cold on the plane, but as sure as I wear something heavy, it is unusually warm.  Wearing layers keeps you comfortable no matter what the temperature.
*Try to take a coffee, water, or other drink on with you, so you don't have to wait for the drink service onboard.

But back to perks and reclining. Obviously, people define these perks differently. Recliners think the ability to recline is a perk. I, however, take the opposite stance and feel that being free of recliners is a perk. How to resolve it? I propose that all airlines make it impossible to recline.

Why? First of all, reclining is a joke. Have you ever tried to recline? You get an inch or two at the most, which doesn't give you any measurable space, and has nothing to do with leg room. Second, I often have to work on a plane, and have to use my laptop and/or work folders, and if the person in front of me reclines, it makes it impossible to use my laptop.

So, please decline to recline. But if you must, please ask the person behind you if that is going to be a problem before doing so.  At 30,000 feet, we all need to get along.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sorry Dear Readers--I Am Back Online!

I am appalled I have been away from my blog for such a long time.  I think my last post was two years ago. Eek!

In my defense, I have been busy the last two years, with family and work situations. But I have missed my blog, my writing, and my readers! I am back in the saddle, beginning today. I am also starting a new feature called "A Couple of Hours in (insert city name). These articles will highlight various things you can do if you only have a couple of hours in a city. I find that when I travel, I might have a few hours here or there, before I head home, and I need something quick and easy to see or do. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to contact me with suggestions for these features too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Make multiple reservations for one hotel stay to lower cost

Here is an idea to keep your hotel bill down if you are staying more than one night. Check each day's rate individually and make multiple reservations if they are different.

For example, if you are staying in a hotel from Friday night to Sunday night, the Sunday night rate may be measurably lower. So you might want to make one reservation for Friday and Saturday (if the rate is the same) and another one for Sunday. On the other hand, if you say you are arriving on Friday night for three nights, you might get the higher rate for all three nights. (Different hotels may or not not do this.)  The author of the article below suggests telling the hotel what you are doing to prevent being moved to a different room for the subsequent reservation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Home swapping--now I know how I will really see the world!

This article in MSN today got me excited about another way to travel on the cheap. Like couch surfing, home swapping is a way to trade with others for accommodations. Couch surfing is more geared for shorter stays, and doesn't have to be simultaneous or even reciprocal. As in, you come sleep on my sofa for a weekend, and than at some point I may sleep on someone else's sofa.

Home swapping, or home exchange, on the other hand is geared for longer stays, such as a month, and is reciprocal. As in, you and I swap homes for a month. Kind of like the movie The Holiday, with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.

The people in this article have a condo in San Diego and swapped with a couple from Cannes for a month. I can commiserate with the San Diegans, worrying about "their dump back home" after seeing the wonderful condo in Paris with a view of Seine. My condo is small, but in Nashville and near Music Row, so it does have appeal. Maybe some around the world would want to swap with me.

But then there is the problem of time and money. Who can afford to go abroad for a month, even if the accommodations are free? The couple profiled are retired, so that works for them. Or if you are between jobs and have money saved up. Or if you have a lot of vacation time and money saved up--that would work too. I think if you can take a month off to do this, you will figure out how to pay for the rest.

Friday, July 13, 2012

When in Charlottesville, VA, the downtown mall is a must

I'm sitting outside on the patio at a restaurant in the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Va, and am thinking the rest of the world needs to know about this place. A lot of people do of course--the University of Virginia, a top university is located here, and that often brings the world to Charlottesville. But the Downtown Mall is a special place unto itself and not to be missed.

I have visited the mall over the last couple of decades and am happy to say it is more thriving than ever. I am waiting on Fridays after Five to start--a weekly free music event. But there are also numerous trendy restaurants and high end shopping. Also some vendors if you want a pair of nice looking but inexpensive sunglasses or a sun hat. It is definitely the place to see and be seen. Make sure you schedule time in for a trip to the mall on your next trip to the vicinity.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Going To Orlando For The First Time In Years? There Is Plenty Waiting For You

If you are like me, you haven't been to Orlando in years. As a teenager, I went on a couple of family trips to Disney World, made a stopover trip during a college spring break on the way to a cruise, and went to Epcot as a young adult.  A good friend of mine recently moved there, however, so a trip may be in my near future.

I started researching Orlando and found that there is a ton more to do there now. There are many great Orlando Hotels, but I will be able to stay with my friend, which will help keep costs down. A trip to the Magic Kingdom and Disney World may be in order, but I might prefer to go to some other sites, such as Universal and some of the attractions they have there, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Space Center, the Wild Africa Trek, Disney--MGM Studios, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience might be fun. I'm not sure though--I say now it sounds fun, but I can't imagine driving a race car.  And the Jack Kerouac House sounds intriguing. I think that would be one of my top picks. And even though I wouldn't be staying at an Orlando Hotel, maybe we could go to one for brunch or the spa.

It might be good to go to Orlando and just have some crazy, silly fun. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy Orlando!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When In NOLA, Check Out Brad Pitt Homes

While in New Orleans, try to take a Katrina tour to see the progress that has been made in rebuilding homes for people. The news came out recently that the last FEMA trailer left the city! Many of the destroyed homes have been fixed, rebuilt, or replaced. Brad Pitt has invested a lot of time and energy in providing new homes for people in the devastated ninth ward. Here are a few of the pictures of the homes. More info at