The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Condo-time share vacations

A new trend in interval ownership-timeshare properties is to rent out unused weeks to no-property owners. Frequently for about the same price as a resort hotel room you can rent a villa for a week.

On our last Florida trip we had a two bedroom two bath unit that came with a completely furnished kitchen, in unit washer & dryer plus all the amenities of a resort property. Swimming pool, spa-hot tubs, outdoor BBQ grills, miniature golf-pretty much the whole works.

The unit was right off of US 192 about 2 miles west of the entrance to Disney World in the heart of shopper’s row. Fast food and nice dining restaurants, trinket shops and all the stuff that tourists flock to like moths were literally located within walking distance of our condo.

The week’s accommodation for the 4 of us broke down to about 140.00 per person or less than $20.00 a day. Not too bad on my check book!

Sure you can get a cheaper daily rate at a bargain hotel. But what do you get? You receive a couple of beds, a bathroom and if lucky an edible continental breakfast.

I’ll spring for the difference and stay in an apartment like setting.

For details on a condo vacation stay contact your travel agent or

Check back as I'll share more information on interval ownership vacations.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Solve a mystery while cruising aboard Carnival Cruise Lines

Themes cruises are increasing in popularity.

Carnival Cruise Lines is teaming up with Whodunit Productions to offer a series of mystery cruises at sea on the Carnival Paradise from Long Beach, CA, this year and in 2009. There will be eight different three-day "Mystery Cruises" offered the first of which departing this Halloween. Other departure dates include January 9. February 13, March 13, May 1, July 17, October 30 and December 4, 2009. Guests will have the chance to solve mysteries and interact with professional actors who will play the various roles. It's like a live version of the board game Clue.

Enjoy some sightseeing time in Los Angeles CA then depart on a mystery solving who done it cruise. A Long Beach departure with a pre or post cruise option means you can enjoy Disneyland, Hollywood, the Pacific Beaches and much more in LALA Land.

With the ways that airline flights operate these days I suggest that for peace of mind you depart a couple of days before your scheduled sailing and enjoy the local area. The resort area of Long Beach has a small town feel and offers plenty of dining and shopping options.

I sailed out of here a few years ago and found it to be a much better experience than fighting the crowds in the Florida cruise terminals.

Contact your local travel agent or for more information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Airport versus MLB spring training baseball park food

I’m not sure which is priced worse the airport snack shacks or the minor league spring training ball parks. I expect to pay major league prices when attending a major league regular season game but come on now this is spring training so relax on the major league prices. The regulars play 4 or 5 innings then you get to see the talent that’s stockpiled down in the minor leagues. Some “super” stars don’t make the road trips some how the owners can justify $30.00 for a box seat in basically an exhibition game?

The costs don’t stop at the ticket office but actually start way before. Want tickets in advance then you’ll have to order them in advance online. The web ticket outlets will gladly sell you seats and then tack on a hefty convenience fee. For our Cleveland Indians ducats this fee amounted to about an additional 25% of the ticket cost. You’ll get clipped anywhere from $5.00-$7.00 for parking, $3.50 for a 6 page photo copied program. A couple of hot dogs and 16 ounce beers pretty much eat up a $20.00 bill.

Silly me they saw me coming all the way as I gleefully coughed up the cash! All kidding and complaining aside it is well worth the trip to catch the boys of summer. The ball parks are small and intimate not like cavernous Yankee Stadium or the Great American Ballpark. The players are relaxed and more than glad to sign autographs even chat with their fans. It’s an excellent way to enjoy the great American pastime and reconnect with family and friends.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Travel & the electronic mail monster

The latest travel adventure is finished. Home at last!

The act of flying used to be a pleasant experience but in today’s climate it’s an endurance test. Lines, plenty of them along with crowds of frenzied, rude fellow travelers, clueless airport employees and ego centric TSA security personnel can turn any 2 hour flight into a 6 hour marathon.

Now I get to wade through over 2000 messages in my email in box and I’ll bet you that less than 10% are real or of any substance. I turned on my “out of the office” vacation automatic response features so many of the replies will be from the robot delivery services with a note” this message cannot be delivered”.

Those messages are in my school mailbox. There are about 750 in my personal one. Hopefully the spam filter has worked and eliminated a lot of the unwanted ones. I do receive quite a few newsletters, supplier updates and personal items so I betting most of these transactions will be legit.

For me email has replaced the telephone and its companion voice mail. The home phone only had 4 messages and over the course of the week I picked up about 30 messages at the office. Armed with a new cell phone plan I returned many of these calls and business chugged along as usual.

Actually this is not a bad price to pay for not being linked for a week. I’ll trade bright blue skies, 80 degree weather, daily rounds of golf and Cleveland Indians spring baseball with plenty of fresh Florida seafood anytime.

Now it is time to tackle office inbox & USPS mail!

I'll talk with you soon.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gone traveling

I'm hitting the road-actually the links and the diamonds of spring baseball. The laptop is staying at home so I'll be off the Internet for a week or so. See you in a week or so.

Favorite honeymonn spots

In its annual "Hot Spots for Summer" survey, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) polled travel agency owners and managers to determine the most popular honeymoon destinations and uncover other emerging travel trends for 2008.

Hawaii ranked first followed by a cruise while the Caribbean finished 3rd. In order 4 through 10 were Jamaica, Cancun, Europe, Italy, Mexico, Tahiti and St. Lucia

Hey Tri-State do you agree? Where is you favorite honeymoon/romantic destination? Email me at

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring flowers

I can tell that spring is just around the corner as the seed, flower and garden catalogs are arriving in my snail mail & electronic mailboxes.

Among the dozen or so catalogs that I received is from Spring Hill Nursery located in Tipp City near Dayton Ohio. Not only are they offering plants found in local box stories and garden centers but many unique and hard to find specimens.
In 1849, while thousands sought their gold fortunes in California, Peter Bohlender started a small nursery in North Dayton, Ohio – Bohlenders Nursery. Peter had immigrated from Bavaria with his family at the age of 6. With few schools and no opportunity to attend, he went to work in a tobacco stripping house. Before he reached his teens he was employed by a nurseryman where he received his training for his life’s work.

Peter Bohlender moved his nursery to Tipp City, Ohio in 1889, and during World War I he renamed the nursery Spring Hill Nurseries. He derived the name “Spring Hill” from the hill located across the creek from the present day location of the garden store’s growing area.

Spring Hill Nurseries was originally a wholesale garden store nursery, owning nearly all the property surrounding its present location. Over the next 40 years, Spring Hill slowly began to move out of wholesale and into mail-order. Spring Hill shifted the majority of its focus to mail-order in 1930.

Spring Hill mails its catalogs in the spring and fall seasons. Orders are shipped at the proper planting time for each area of the country.

It is estimated that over 25,000,000 American gardens contain Spring Hill grown plants.

It’s worthy of a road trip over to the southwestern part of Ohio but I need to conduct a little more research on other things to see and do in the area. I'll keep you posted.

Visit them on-line at

Got travel questions? Need help with reservations? Contact

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Free Las Vegas ideas

To the blogger that is taking her mom to Vegas for an Elton John concert here is Steve’s short Las Vegas see and to do list. Other than the transit pass everything is free. For more ideas visit:

1. Buy a bus pass and learn how to ride it. This will get you out and about in Las Vegas

2. Explore the Fremont Street Experience (a laser lightshow) downtown then stroll through the Neon Museum, a collection of retired Las Vegas neon icons

3. Take the bus to Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory & Desert Garden

4. Watch the water fountain show and browse Conservatory & Botanical Garden at the Bellagio

5. Stroll the streets of Paris and gaze at the Eifel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel

6. Watch the gondoliers at the Venetian Hotel

7. See the Lions Habitat at the MGM Grand

8. Visit M&M's World next to the MGM

9. Just explore the lobbies & shopping areas of hotels like Caesar Palace, New York New York & so forth

10. People Watch

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Travel & on line social networking

Social networking has become a part of Americans’ everyday life. Websites including,, and have attracted hundreds of millions of passionate members to their communities.

I have not really ventured into this area but my understanding is that is huge and extremely popular. So the Travel Professor is going to do some investigating and will keep you posted on my discoveries.

The recent launch of a social networking site for passionate leisure travelers has tweaked my interest.

According to their press release is a brand new online social network that combines the most popular social networking features enabling users to share vacation photos, read and write reviews, interact in traveler forums and blog about their travel adventures.

I guess that I’ll just have to check it out.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Destination weddings & honeymoon funding

Travel Prof: We want to get married on a beach in Saint Somewhere plus we’re a little short on honeymoon funds. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. RAS-Ashland, KY.

RAS- I sure do have some thoughts. We’re talking about an “I Do” destination wedding and a registering a honeymoon.

It sounds as if the idea of “running away” to get married appeals to you, though you’ve also dreamed of a traditional ceremony with friends and family present? There is a way to combine the traditional and the adventurous in one wedding ceremony: a destination wedding.

In a destination wedding, the happy couple travels to an exotic location to say their vows. While a destination wedding requires some serious advance planning, there are a number of reasons why it can be a very practical choice.

For example, if your family and friends are scattered across the country, they must travel to attend your wedding. Why not ask them to travel to a fabulous vacation destination, where everyone can enjoy several relaxed days together?

A wide variety of possible locations means that a destination wedding can suit just about any budget. In fact, destination weddings can be more affordable than traditional weddings. Some of the most popular locations for destination weddings include Hawaii, Florida (think Orlando or Key West), Las Vegas, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Getting married in conjunction with a cruise is also an increasingly popular choice.

A destination wedding may also be a good idea if you are so busy that you don’t know how you’ll find time to plan a wedding. Many resort hotels, tourist destinations and cruise lines have coordinators dedicated to helping guests arrange memorable weddings, down to the last detail. These helpful coordinators will also let you know what documents you and your fiancé should bring to meet local legal requirements for marriage. (NOTE: There are some destinations that provide free weddings-check with your travel planner).

If you choose a destination wedding, it’s important to give your guests as much advance notice as possible, especially if they need to obtain passports. In addition to helping everyone schedule and coordinate their travel, your travel professional can advise you on any other requirements for safe and convenient travel to your dream wedding destination.

Here’s a different spin on the gift giving aspect. Many newly weds are merging households and do not need the traditional gifts. Inform your guests that you have registered your honeymoon/destination wedding at XYZ travel agency and instead of another toaster a cash contribution towards your romantic getaway would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Much more Aloha!

From the hustle and bustle of Honolulu to the quiet calm of Molokai there is a little bit of paradise for everyone here. Do it all or do nothing all but come and experience the islands.

In 1927 the 1st successful flight from the 48 states to the Islands took 25 hours and 52 mins. And that plane departed Oakland CA! Today from the Tri-State it's a journey of about 8-9 hours depending on the routing.

One of the more difficult parts of your Hawaiian getaway is the journey there. In It’s a long haul but worth every minute once you arrive and experience the spirit of aloha. Due to the length of the flight I suggest spending at least a week, maybe more. One week –one or two island no more. Got ten days then 3 islands or see four islands in a two week stay.

I have done the 8days, 7nights, 4 island Hawaiian gig and most of my memories are of packing and unpacking, rushing to and from the airport and checking into and out of another hotel. This is crazy! It is too frenzied of a pace and does not really allow you embrace the aloha way of life.

Another great way to explore the islands is by sea. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a 7 day cruise departing every Saturday from Honolulu. Fly in a few days early, let your body clock and biorhythms adjust then head to the pier unpack once then sail your way through the islands.

Yes, indeed, it is worth it discover the Aloha of Hawaii. Visit and to find out more about the various islands, activities and so forth.

Got travel questions? Email them to