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Here’s something fun to kick off your weekend. It’s a travel-themed picture puzzle. You just have to tie the photos together to make words. For example, a photo of an eye, combined with a photo of a full glass of water would be eye + full = Eiffel. Get it? (For another example, check out last week’s puzzle.)

This week’s puzzle is one word and represents a city.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, February 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday morning we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Dottie Blocker, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Timbuktu.” Dottie has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Sarah Schlichter

We’ve seen some fun in-flight safety videos in our day, guest starring such notables as Betty White, Richard Simmons, a bunch of hobbits and even a dancing nun. But for this Gen X’er, Delta’s newest air safety video, like, totally takes the cake.

It’s got women in side ponytails with neon nail polish and lace gloves, and men with mullets or more hair than Crystal Gayle. There’s even an Atari game console, a Teddy Ruxpin doll and a man inchworminghis way down the aisle. All of it, plus way more(!), had this 80s gal laughing and, more importantly, paying attention.

My favorite moment? The guy trying to fix his cassette tape with his pinky.

So grab the keys to your time traveling DeLorean and take a peek below as heavy metal rockers, Valley girls, Alf and a special guest pilot take you through the ABCs of airline safety.



More In-Flight Fun:
Betty White Stars in Latest Air New Zealand Safety Video
FAA: Harlem Shake in the Sky Might Not Fly

– written by Dori Saltzman

couple trip planning map laptopOn a recent work trip to Amsterdam, my first visit to this iconic city, I decided to treat myself to a little vacation time. My goal was to explore as much as I could within the four free days I had allotted myself, but, as is the case in most big cities, there were so many things I wanted to see and do: the Anne Frank House, the Keukenhof’s flowers, the Poezenboot, a canal boat tour, museums galore and, of course, the infamous Red Light District.

I figured my best bet would be to organize attractions of interest geographically to avoid wasting time racing back and forth across the city. The problem, though, was that I had no idea how to get started.
A quick Google search yielded a glorious link to Yahoo! Travel’s Trip Planner, which is still one of the most helpful travel tools I’ve ever used. Sure, it’s a fairly simple program, but that’s the beauty of it.

Sign up for an account (or use an existing one), create a name for your trip and search for things to do in your destination, either by checking them off of a prepopulated list of the most popular or by searching for things you already know you can’t miss. After adding them to your trip file, you can then click to see them arranged on a map of your destination, making it easy to group attractions by neighborhood. You can also share your trip with your travel companions … or with anyone who’s not going and wants to live vicariously through your itinerary.

Plus, as is always important when you’re trying to save precious time, you can click through to each attraction’s website to find hours of operation and purchase tickets in advance.

How to Create the Perfect Itinerary

If you’re already privy to the wonders of Trip Planner, you’re ahead of the curve. If you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for? Even if you don’t have your next vacation planned just yet, you can still create mockups for trips to every place on your bucket list so you’re ready when it comes time to book.

Which itinerary planning tools have you found most useful?

5 Trip Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

– written by Ashley Kosciolek

car credit cardSo long as you use it to pay for your car rental, your credit card probably offers you more insurance on your car rental than you assumed — and, if nothing else, at least supplements your own car insurance very well. Below is a roundup of coverage (and applicable exclusions) offered by the major credit cards as of January 2014.

One important rule is that none of the major cards include liability insurance as a part of their coverage, with coverage primarily limited to the loss and damage waiver. This typically also excludes personal injury, as well as loss or theft of personal belongings. For liability and other coverage, you will want to make sure you are covered by your auto insurance policy.

Note that coverage may vary based on the type of card you have; we recommend contacting your credit card issuer to double-check its policies before renting.

Mastercard
- All Gold, Platinum, World and World elite cards have coverage; standard cards vary by issuer. The coverage amount is the lesser of the actual repair amount, current market value (less salvage) or $50,000 per incident.

- Vehicle exclusions: Trucks, pickups, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, cargo vans, campers, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, motorbikes, antique vehicles, limousines, sport utility trucks and vehicles with retail prices exceeding $50,000.

- Country exclusions: Ireland, Israel and Jamaica, and where prohibited by law (World and World Elite have no exclusions).

- Limit on rental length: 31 days for World and World Elite cardholders, 15 days for other types.

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing or storage charges, loss of use and administrative fees when the rental company provides appropriate documentation.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t.

Visa
- All cards have coverage, limited to collision and theft coverage. Coverage is up to the replacement cash value of the rental vehicle as it was originally manufactured, taking into account current condition and mileage.

- Vehicle exclusions: Expensive, exotic and antique automobiles; certain vans; vehicles with an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

- Country exclusions: Israel, Jamaica, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

- Limit on rental length: 15 days in your country of residence, 31 days outside it.

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing charges and valid administrative and loss of use charges imposed by the auto rental company.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t.

10 Things Not to Do When Renting a Car

American Express
- All cards offer coverage (specific coverage varies by card), except the Delta Options card (which is no longer being marketed).

- Vehicle exclusions: Exotic cars, trucks, pickups, cargo vans, full-size vans, customized vehicles, vehicles used for hire or commercial purposes, antique cars, limousines, full-size sport utility vehicles, sport/utility vehicles when driven “off-road,” off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, recreational vehicles, golf or motorized carts, campers, trailers and any other vehicle which is not a Rental Auto.

- Limit on rental length: 30 days.

- Country exclusions: Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand (for small business cards, coverage is for the U.S., its territories and possessions only).

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing or storage charges, loss of use and administrative fees when the rental company provides appropriate documentation.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t. You can pay $24.95 for Premium Car Rental Protection, which offers primary coverage plus additional benefits for up to 42 consecutive days of coverage. Coverage varies by card.

Discover
- All cards have coverage, varying from $25,000 to $50,000, depending on the card.

- Vehicle exclusions: Off-road, antique, limited edition, high-value (more than $50,000) and high-performance motor vehicles; trucks; recreational vehicles; campers; pickups; and mini-buses.

- Country exclusions: None.

- Limit on rental length: 31 days (45 days if you are an employee of the company that provided the card for use).

- Covered fees: None except on the Escape card, which covers reasonable towing fees to the nearest collision repair facility.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t.

Diners Club
- All cards offer Primary Collision Damage Waiver Insurance when the entire cost of a car rental is charged to a Diners Club Card. There’s usually no need to file a claim with your own insurance company, so your personal insurance premium won’t be affected. The insurance covers physical damage and theft of the vehicle, reasonable loss of use charges and reasonable towing charges, and includes Secondary Personal Effects insurance.

- Protection applies to rental cars with manufacturer’s suggested retail price up to $100,000 for covered damages.

- Vehicle exclusions: Trucks, pickups, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, campers, off-road vehicles, recreational vehicles, antique vehicles, trailers, motorbikes, vehicles with fewer than four wheels and some SUVs.

- Limit on rental length: 45 days

- Country exclusions: Australia, Italy and New Zealand

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing costs and loss of use charges. Administrative fees are not covered.

Car Rental Secrets We Bet You Don’t Know

– written by Ed Hewitt

Today’s post is part of a weekly series called “Travel Toss-Up,” in which we ask you to take your pick between two amazing travel experiences.

This week’s toss-up offers a choice of two larger-than-life attractions.

Would you rather…

… travel to Utah to see the red rock formations of Monument Valley, or …

antarctica penguins



… gaze up in awe at the massive stone heads of Easter Island?

polar bears arctic canada


Tell us your preference in the comments below!

Nine Easy Hikes That Will Take Your Breath Away

– written by Dori Saltzman

Here’s something fun to kick off your weekend. It’s a travel-themed picture puzzle. You just have to tie the photos together to make words. For example, a photo of an eye, combined with a photo of a full glass of water would be eye + full = Eiffel. Get it? (For another example, check out last week’s puzzle.)

This week’s puzzle is four words and represents an ancient attraction.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, January 27, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday morning we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Adam Liston, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Valley of the Kings.” Adam has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Dori Saltzman

pack suitcaseMost of us have that one treasured item we just can’t live without — even when we’re headed away on vacation. We make sure our “can’t live without” item finds its way into the bag, even if something more essential has to be left behind.

We here at IndependentTraveler.com have a theory, based on our collective years of experience: that the compulsion to pack the “can’t live without” item crosses all boundaries of personality type, race, gender and creed.

Maybe you’re sentimental and chuck out the spare pair of shoes in favor of your favorite childhood plush toy … or you’re superstitious and won’t board a plane, train or boat without your trusty good luck charm.

Even the more practical travelers among us — we who make our lists and organize our hermetically sealed suitcases alphabetically, cross-referenced against a color-coded spreadsheet — are not immune. We remember the passport and the tickets. We have twice the socks and underwear we could ever need and clothing for any occasion and eventuality. And we have it, too. The “can’t live without” item.

Readers Share Their Must-Pack Items

Copy editor Ashley Kosciolek brings at least three garbage bags — “one for dirty laundry and a couple extras in case it rains (can use ‘em as ponchos or to keep wet/dirty clothes and shoes separate from everything else).” Senior editor Sarah Schlichter never leaves home without her travel journal, where she’s scribbled down years of notes about her favorite restaurants and most memorable experiences around the world.

And IT.com contributor Erica Silverstein doesn’t get on a plane without her husband’s lucky Christmas moose, even when she’s traveling alone: “I’m not a great flier, so I need something to clutch when it gets bumpy. If Adam’s around, I clutch him. If he’s not, I have a soft, cuddly moose.”

Quiz: What’s Your Packing Personality?

Now it’s your turn: What is it that you always pack when you when you travel? Tell us in the comments below.

– written by Jamey Bergman

Each month, we’ll highlight one new trip review submitted by an IndependentTraveler.com reader. If your review is featured, you’ll win an IndependentTraveler.com logo item!

segovia aqueduct spainIn this month’s featured review, reader Betsy Lubis shares her memories of a three-week trip through Spain. “Impressions of and experiences in Segovia: a) beautiful setting tucked between arid hills, b) Alcazar, Roman Wall, aqueduct, all quite impressive, c) the ponche segoviano (marzipan) cake at Limon and Menta was the best part of our day and the best pastry we’d eat on the entire trip, d) dinner at a pizza place with kids playing in a ball pit, e) guys slathering up wall posters announcing a protest against a proposed golf course. ‘Golf is only for rich men,’ one of them informed us. And, golf wastes water in a country running out of water, their sign proclaimed.”

Read the rest of Betsy’s review here: 21 Days of Spain. Betsy has won an IndependentTraveler.com duffel bag!

Feeling inspired? Write your own trip review!

– written by Sarah Schlichter

genie lampShould I ever be so lucky as to run into the right lamp and find my genie, my first wish will be for more wishes. But should I be limited to only three wishes, and only travel wishes at that, I will not cry. I can do a lot with three travel wishes!

Leaving aside the obvious wish for lots of money, I’d first wish for a never ending supply of airline miles on at least one international carrier, so that I can get just about anywhere in the world I want to without having to pay more than taxes.

Next, I’d want a similar arrangement with a multi-brand hotel company so that I could have someplace free to stay in any major city.

Get the Best Airplane Seat

Finally, I’d like a guarantee of an exclusive experience (of my choice) in every destination I visit. For instance, on a safari in Tanzania I’d be the only tourist (well, with friends and family, of course) at any location at any given time during the Great Migration. Or at Stonehenge, I’d get to go inside the stone circle alone, at dawn or dusk.

I’m not the only IndependentTraveler.com editor to desire an airline-related wish. Senior editor Sarah Schlichter would use her first wish for unlimited airline upgrades. Her other two requests: an Antarctic cruise (including magical protection from seasickness) and the ability to speak any language at a basic level.

Copy editor Ashley Kosciolek also wants immunity from feeling ill, but she went all the way and wished for never getting sick at all — no traveler’s tummy or strange parasites for her! She also wished for good weather, because she hates travel delays, and skipping freebies on airlines or at hotels, she went straight for simply having unlimited funds.

Lots of cash and easier air travel were also popular wishes with IndependentTraveler.com readers who responded to our query on Facebook and Twitter.

Forget Armchair Travel: Drop the Book and Go!

For instance, Facebook friend Kyra Yazmin wished for an unlimited supply of cash, a Matrix-like ability to download the local language in an instant and a magic sack that is light as air but big enough to carry everything you could ever want or need.

Twitter follower Jess tweeted, “$40,000, two years, 35+ countries,” while Mackenzie Lowen tweeted, “Private jet, unlimited fuel and an on-call pilot. Forever.”

On Facebook Gill Harvey elected to skip flying and teleport to anywhere in the world. Gill also wanted to be able to speak the language in any destination, and to have a stash of local currency waiting on arrival.

And on behalf of many of us time-strapped travelers, Twitter follower Alka Kaushik simply requested “Time, time and more time!”

What travel wish would you make if given the chance?

– written by Dori Saltzman

Here’s something fun to kick off your weekend. It’s a travel-themed picture puzzle. You just have to tie the photos together to make words. For example, a photo of an eye, combined with a photo of a full glass of water would be eye + full = Eiffel. Get it? (For another example, check out last week’s puzzle.)

This week’s puzzle is one word and represents the name of a country.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, January 20, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday morning we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Barbie, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Barbados.” Barbie has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.



– written and created by Sarah Schlichter and Dori Saltzman