Home

Home Travel Tips Travel Deals Destinations Trip Reviews Forums Blog
The IndependentTraveler.com Blog

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 three words and represents a beautiful, but chilly, natural attraction.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, February 10, 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 Patty Kessler, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Mendenhall Ice Caves.” Patty has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Dori Saltzman

semester at seaWith the massive Target credit card data breach only about two months behind us, I’m not sure we’ve yet hit a “just when you thought it was safe” moment. And now, a new data breach is striking fear into the heart of consumers and, most especially, travelers.

White Lodging, a company that owns or manages 68 Hilton, Marriott, Westin and Sheraton hotels in 21 states, has experienced a data breach exposing thousands of guests’ credit and debit card data to thieves, a Yahoo Finance article revealed. The breach occurred between about March 23, 2013, and the end of the year. That’s more than nine months’ worth of credit/debit card information!

Most of the stolen data came from cards used in hotel restaurants and gift shops. USA Today has a full list of affected hotels.

White Lodge is not providing any information about the breach other than to say it is under investigation.

But perhaps what’s even more frightening than the breach itself is that it doesn’t surprise security experts.

Money Safety Tips for Travelers

Adam Levin, chairman and co-founder of Credit.com and Identify Theft911, told a Credit.com writer that breaches are inevitable. He even used the words, “None of this matters”!

What he’s really saying is that we just need to remain vigilant and monitor the charges that appear on our credit/debit card statements, because data breaches aren’t going away. He also recommends watching your credit reports (translation: use his Credit.com services).

In “11 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft While Traveling,” our own Ed Hewitt recommends checking your credit card statements regularly. While you should do this whenever you travel anyway, if you’ve stayed at a Marriott in the past year, make sure you go back and double check all your charges! You might even want to let your credit card bank know you stayed at a hotel you suspect may have been the target of a data theft.

While I’m not going to lie and say this latest data breach doesn’t scare me, what I walk away with is a renewed determination to keep doing what I’m doing and just accept that part of my traveling routine now must include actively checking my credit card statements while I’m traveling and in the weeks and months after a trip.

Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation: 9 Essential Tips

– written by Dori Saltzman

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

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

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

globe woman world travelWhat do Cape Town, Christchurch and Calgary have in common … besides all starting with the letter “C”?

They’re all on the New York Times’ annual Places to Go list. This year the much-anticipated list numbers 52 places, up from last year’s 46 recommended destinations. And they’re all pretty phenomenal.

Examples include the Albanian Coast, which the Times says combines the rugged beauty of the Dalmatian Coast with Greece’s ancient ruins and the easygoing nature of rural Italy (No. 4 on the list); Fernando de Noronha, a 21-island archipelago 330 miles off the coast of Recife, Brazil, that boasts 250-foot black cliffs and peach-sand beaches and to which only 246 visitors are allowed per day (No. 14 on the list); and Chennai, one of India’s cultural capitals, home to several dance and music schools that offer regular performances around the city (No. 26 on the list).

13 Best New Zealand Experiences

Several of the places on the list matched up with IndependentTraveler.com’s Top 9 Destinations for 2014, including two exactly: Nepal (No. 45) and Iceland (No. 30). Others fell within broader destinations we picked for 2014. The New York Times, for instance, includes the Arctic Circle (No. 38), while IndependentTraveler.com chose the Far North (defined by us as anywhere you can see the Northern Lights).

The Places to Go list is a great resource for discovering new must-visit destinations — I added five items to my bucket list including the Albanian Coast; Krabi, Thailand (No. 28); the North Coast of California (No. 3); Varazdin, Croatia (No. 48); and Xishuangbanna, China (No. 32) — and reaffirming that several places already on my bucket list really are worth visiting, like Namibia, the Seychelles and the Arctic Circle.

Another thing I love about the Places to Go list is ticking off places I’ve already been. Of the 52 places suggested for 2014, I’ve already visited seven, though I’m dying to go back to Cape Town (No. 1), Perth (No. 9) and Scotland (No. 16).

Cool Tools for Planning Complicated Trips

How many of the 52 places have you been to? How many are already on your bucket list? And how many — and which — new places did you add to your list?

– 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 two words and represents a North American attraction that offers a glimpse into the past.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, January 13, 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 Aileen Greenberg-Kriner, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Mesa Verde.” Aileen has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.



– written and created by Dori Saltzman

interview

The next time you reach out to your travel advisor for help with planning your next trip, you may want to rein in any diva behavior, lest a caricature of you appear in an Off-Broadway play.

Though the 30 travelers depicted in the new two-person play “Craving for Travel” are fictional, many of their requests — at turns unreasonable, sweet and shortsighted — are based on the real-life customers of travel agent Jim Strong of Strong Travel Services in Dallas.

“The play is a comedy that finds its roots in the extremes of truth,” co-playwright Andy Sandberg explained to IndependentTraveler.com.

The Etiquette of Seat Backs and Elbow Room

So what kind of crazy antics can a bunch of travel agent customers get up to?

Well, there’s the American senator booted out of his hotel in Sydney after making some offensive comments about an Australian icon. And then there’s the man who tried to plan his trip sans help but found himself badly in need of a bail-out. Another unique request the two travel agents in the play try to accommodate comes from an elderly couple hoping to relive their first meeting.

“Craving for Travel” is open for a four-week run at the Peter J. Sharp Theater on 42nd Street in New York City. I’m hoping to get tickets to see the show, so in preparation I’ve decided to let my imagination run wild and concoct my own ridiculously impossible travel request.

Why You Still Need a Travel Agent

I want to plan a one-week England trip. During that time I’d like to visit Stonehenge, but not with any other tourists. Instead I want a private tour of the site at dusk, accompanied by a practicing druid. Also, I want to play billiards with Prince Harry, sup with Elton John and pet the Queen’s corgis.

What impossible-to-provide travel experience(s) would you ask for?

– 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 three words and represents one of South America’s most beautiful natural attractions.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, January 6, 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 Gwen M, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Torres del Paine.” Gwen has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Dori Saltzman