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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

R U fluing me?

I don’t think it time to adopt the bunker mentality but just in case if your ready y to snuggle here’s an update;

CDC Travelers' Health offers information to assist travelers and their health-care providers in deciding the vaccines, medications, and other measures necessary to prevent illness and injury during international travel.

But as always be safe & listen to current guidelines.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Flu & health concerns

Due to current health issues many airlines, tour operators and cruise lines are altering their itineraries and along with change/cancel policies.

If you are traveling in the next week or so and have travel concerns check with your booking source and they'll update you on current restrictions.

You can also visit the U.S. State Department and read their travel alerts and warning at

Monday, April 27, 2009

Off to Browns Town and the Rubber City.

I escorted a small group up to Ohio’s North Coast last weekend for rock and roll, art, history and culture. We definitely got much more than we had planned on. Brilliant sunshine, unseasonably warm weather, a jazz festival plus plenty of NFL tailgating and festivities capped off the experience. This excursion was planned well in advance of the Major League Baseball schedule but we also lucked out as the Cleveland Indians were home.

Our 3 day 2 night itinerary including stops in both Akron and Cleveland was ambitious but allowed plenty of free time to roam and explore downtown Browns (Cleveland OH) towns. Keep back and I’ll update you on our day by day experiences.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Entertainment book hotel program findings

I just completed a side by side evaluation of the Entertainment book hotel discount program by comparing prices on the Entertainment as well as 3 popular web based hotel booking engines. Search parameters was three specific downtown Chicago 4 star hotels arriving on Thursday June 18th 2009 and departing Sunday Jun 21st 2009 requesting 1 room for 1 person.

Rates were requested rates in all discount categories that applied to my personal situation. These were AAA, corporate and a booking code supplied by the Entertainment book hotel program. Rate research was conducted on,, and the Entertainment book site. I discovered that the rates were all the same for each property on each website. $189.00 a night for hotel X was offered on these 4 different websites.

So in this experiment the book’s program didn’t come up with a better rate. The book is still a great deal for dining bargains but their travel program did not save me anything on this trip. Time to go to plan B.

Clicking on is where I discovered some real savings. They offered a four star hotel in the downtown Loop area for $89.00 a night but I would not know the name of the property until I completed the transaction. They have fairly steep change or cancel fees so you’d better be sure that you want the reservation before clicking “book it”.

Happy travels.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Going green

Yesterday April 22nd was Earth Day. There were plenty of local and global activities designed to help save the planet and educate its population.

The travel industry has joined this effort and many suppliers are trying to become more "planet" friendly. A pretty good website to check out what is going on in the green travel world is Check it out as it offers plenty of "green" information and ideas.

The Travel Professor has been working on his own green approach and I'm pleased to report that by recycling and composting I have almost eliminated my need for the weekly trash pick up.

Happy green travels!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Entertainment book hotel discounts

I last commented on the savings offered by using frequent shopper cards both locally and when traveling. In a discount and savings state of mind I’ve decided to check out the hotel discounts offered by the Entertainment book. I had one of these books for years and saved plenty on their 2 for 1 dining offers but I’ve never really investigated their travel savings program.

For those of you not familiar with this publication it is a coupon savings book for a specific city or region. My current one basically covers the Huntington, Ironton and Ashland areas but also bleeds into national stores and companies. The books cost $20-25.00 and even if you just use it a few times when dining out you quickly recoup your investment. One year I closely tracked my usage and found that I had accumulated over $300.00 in savings. On a sad note I left and leave many dollars of coupons unused primarily because I sometime forget to look in the book. I’m going to make a more conscience effort to utilize the Entertainment coupons to the max this year.

Entertainment book has been around for nearly 50 years and has been helping people save with their premium 50% off and 2-for-1 coupons found in the book that help them save on everyday essentials right in their neighborhood. Savings included are dining, shopping, movie tickets, groceries, services, travel, attractions, car care and so forth. Plus with each book purchase you get online access to hundreds of additional local printable coupons and incredible online shopping discounts not found in the book.

I cannot comment on the on-line coupons because I haven’t looked at them but I will.

What I am really interested in is their hotel savings program. I’m definitely going to comparison shop the Entertainment travel discounts against other reservations sources. When this mission is completed I’ll report my findings and share with you the source of the best deals that I uncovered.

Happy travels.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More on shopping loyalty cards

Yesterday I commented on how a grocery store shopping discount card saved me over $100.00 while traveling.

On a more local note your Kroger‘s card is honored by various supermarkets around the country. Chains like Fry’s Marketplace, City Market and Dillon’s honor that card. Look at the back of your cards and you'll discover where they are honored at.

Because of my previous travels to and shopping trips out west I took mine with me to Arizona in March and save some cash.

I now have a collection of shopping cards almost as extensive as my casino frequent player club cards. If it doesn’t cost me anything to join and offers some immediate savings then sign me up.

I admit they want a bunch of personal information but you’ll have to weigh the potential benefits. I won’t give them my social security number, home phone or email account. If pressed for an email address I a free one. You can obtain a free Yahoo, Hotmail or Google account and use it only for shopping and discount purposes.

Happy travels!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shopping loyalty cards

I’m a guy so I am not supposed to care about things like coupons, discounts and frequent shopping cards. I head into the store buy my few items and leave. No browsing of the aisles or strolling through the mall for this guy. I do not shop just for the fun of it. In my mind shopping is not a recreational activity. Golf, volleyball, softball and so forth are.

In guy code it is OK to spend quality time with the wife/girlfriend shopping and pretending to enjoy one self. In this situation I’ll smile and look like I am having a great time but everyone knows this is just an act.

Does this sound like someone you know? Well then it’s time for them to get some attitude adjustment on this shopping thing. I did!

Yes I’m a reformed non shopper with an adjusted attitude. I’m not ready for a prime time shopping gig to Minneapolis’s Mall of America but I’ll go when Ohio State plays Minnesota in football. This is scheduled to happen in 2010 so a Mall of America road trip is on my radar.
I learned my shopping lesson a few years back while on the road escorting a school group with 5 bus loads of 7th and 8th grade students. Imagine trying to keep these students supplied with snacks, soft drinks, fruit, veggies and other staples. It was time to restock and replenish so I headed over to the Gettysburg PA mega supermarket with a fairly substantial shopping list.

It was in that store that I really noticed the price differences. With a “Giant” savings card I’d save $4.00 on a cube pack of Coke plus similar savings were offered on other purchases. Quickly I did the math and discovered the benefit and value of shopping with a loyalty shopping card.

I marched over to the customer service counter and applied for my “Giant” card on the spot. Then I continued shopping. While checking out I overheard one of the store employees comment snidely “why does someone from Ironton Ohio need our card in Gettysburg PA?”

I smiled and told the young lady that I was the Ironton guy and that I had 110 reasons for getting a savings card. She was puzzled so I followed with “I saved $110.00 off of my bill today”. That “Giant” card is filled away in my Gettysburg trip file and travels with me every time I head to that part of PA.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Covington KY church tour

I have been down river and toured a few of the historic churches in Covington Kentucky. It’s worth the trip especially when they are decorated for the holiday seasons.

One favorite is the Covington Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, located at 12th Street & Madison Ave., Covington, KY. It is one of only 35 minor basilicas located in the United States. Starting out as St. Mary's Church opened in 1837 it was the first Roman Catholic Church built in Covington. In 1895 the St. Mary's Cathedral was nearly complete: the interior being modeled after the Abbey Church of St. Denis in Paris while the exterior would mirror Notre Dame de Paris.

Built in the 13th Century French-Gothic style, and constructed of Indiana limestone, the Cathedral's interior shines with beautiful appointments. Among them, 82 hand-poured stained glass windows crafted in Munich Germany, including the 24-foot wide by 67-foot tall window in the north transept, one of the largest in the world. Two rose windows (each being 26 ft. in diameter) grace the west and south clerestory and are modeled after those in Notre Dame Cathedral. The Stations of the Cross, which line the peripheral walls, are made of Italian mosaic. Each mosaic contains at least 70,000 pieces and measures 3-feet wide by 6-feet tall. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel contains a triptych portraying the history of salvation by area realist painter, Frank Duveneck. The font of the Baptistery is carved from one solid block of marble from Pietrosanto, Italy. A baldochino (canopy) of carved Appalachian white oak soars over the apse area inset with hand-carved figurines of saints. In 1953, St. Mary's Cathedral was designated a minor basilica by Pope Pius XII, hence her present name ~ Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (

Another local treasure is the Mother of God church ( which was founded in 1841 when approximately 30 German Catholic families recruited Fr. Ferdinand Kuhr to come to Covington. The new church of the Annunciation of the Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God became the second Catholic parish in the city. The present church building was constructed in 1870-1871 in the Italian Renaissance basilica design.

Tour stop number 3 is at the Trinity Episcopal Church which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 01, 1982. It acquired this status because it is an excellent example of how medieval techniques in architectural design affected Episcopal church building in the United States in the 19th Century, in a style known as Gothic Revival

There’s plenty more to see and do on both sides of the river but I’ll stop my tour after these 3 stops enjoy some riverfront dining then head back up river to the best location in the nation. For northern Kentucky information visit or call 877.6598474.

Happy travels!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Church tours

Yesterday Easter Sunday was one of the holiest days in Christianity. The religious impact upon our landscape and culture has resulted in the creation of many magnificent architectural masterpieces. This means that travelers of any faith or of none can enjoy the majesty of faith based buildings, monuments, memorials and shrines.

A trip to Dublin Ireland would not be complete without a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. One of the must sees on your itinerary in Paris France, the City of Light, is Notre Dame. Mention many other world famous capitol cities and I think of their churches, cathedrals, basilicas and mosques. The focal point of many tours is based around religious icons and sacred holy sites.

You do not to travel internationally to view these blessed venues. Right here in Ironton Ohio we have a wonderful assembly of multi denominational churches representing many different architectural styles. If you have not participated in their Christmas season church walk then this is something you need to add to your must do list.

I have not participated in any church tours in the surrounding river cities so I cannot comment on them but I’m sure they would offer another wonderful experience.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thoughts on spring baseball & Phoenix

Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport (PHX) is well served by most major US carriers from all local departure airports. I selected to depart from Columbus (CMH) for two reason-price and non stop flights. Presently US Airways and Southwest offer daily nonstop departures.

Instead of the traditional rental car check in counters generally located in the baggage reclaim area Phoenix loads everyone on a bus and transports you to a surface transportation center located about 15 minutes for the main terminal. I found this process to be efficient and not too much of a burden. The real burden I discovered was the extra taxes and fees tacked on to my rental. I suspect that these charges are helping to pay for this facility.

Lodging choices in the Valley of the Sun ranged from no star properties to ultra deluxe golf resorts. Comfort Suites 15575 W. Roosevelt St, Goodyear, AZ located about 2 miles away from the baseball complex is the closest hotel. It’s a good hike to the fields and there isn’t any public transportation so a car or taxi is required.

Instead of staying here I opted for an Extended Stay America ( property more centrally located in Phoenix. Room features and rates were the major reasons that I went this route. For about $50.00 a night in late March I got a spacious room equipped with a full sized refrigerator, microwave and a two burner stove top. Additional amenities included an outdoor pool, barbeque grill and a guest laundry. Location was not an issue for me as I would be traveling to greater Phoenix area golf courses and spring training sites.

A unique eclectic dining spot and watering hole is Roman's Oasis 16825 W. Yuma Road, Goodyear, AZ. About a 5 minute drive from the ball park it offers hearty pub grub and hundreds of amusing signs tacked to the walls. The clientele was an interesting mix of Indian fans, cowboys, bikers and business people.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Play ball in Goodyear AZ

Nestled in the shadow of the Estrella Mountains, the Southwest Valley has become one of the shining jewels in the Phoenix metro area. The cities of Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Tolleson are making their presence known as excellent places stay, visit and play.

My impressions of the new Goodyear ball park are that it is just that. A ball park! There wasn’t anything special about it. Nice new and modern but it didn’t wow me. One feature that I enjoyed was the right field pavilion that offered an all you care to eat package. For $30.00 I got a ticket to the game plus all the hot dogs, burgers, soft drinks and the trimmings that I cared to consume. There was also a bar serving adult beverages with major league prices. A negative for this area and the rest of the ball park vending was the lack of Cleveland’s unique spicy dark brown stadium mustard.

Parking around the stadium is plentiful and costs $5.00. It’s a short walk from the parking area to the practice facilities and stadium. One of the Indians practice fields had the outfield configured like Jacobs I’m sorry now Progressive Fields. So this feature a Goodyear version of the Great American Ballpark should be included in the new Red’s complex.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Play ball-Goodyear AZ style

Recently I conducted a scouting mission to Goodyear AZ and the greater Phoenix region. The main purpose of my trip was to check out the new spring training home for the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds (coming spring 2010).

In my next few post s I‘ll report my findings and share my thoughts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Still sidetracked in Vicennes Indiana

This was the frontier region of the early United States and the country’s expansion westward was in progress. Another remarkable treasure Vincennes treasure dating to this period is an elegant house called Grouseland (

This is a Georgian style home built in 1803 by William Henry Harrison when he was Governor of the Indiana Territory. Today it is a National Historic Landmark filled with a rich history of the period. The house was more than a residence: it was the center of government for the Indiana Territory and also served as a fortress in times of unrest. Harrison was elected ninth President of the United States in 1840, so the home is a Presidential site and exhibits contain colorful campaign memorabilia.

I could spend a couple of days here exploring the area but I’ve got to keep heading west. For more information on the region contact the Vincennes Convention and Visitors bureau at (800)886-6443 or

Got travel questions? Contact or call 740.533.4559.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Still sidetracked on the way to Illinois

Researching Vincennes as a destination I was quickly reminded of its early American frontier history that included George Rogers Clark, William Henry Harrison, other early pioneers and Native Americans.

A very little known story of the American Revolution is George Rogers Clark and his force of 170 Americans and Frenchmen mission to capture British forces in the West. His “army” made an epic 18-day trek through the freezing flood waters of the then Illinois country. At times in icy water up to their shoulders, it was Clark's leadership that brought them through this incredible journey and incredible victory at Fort Sackville near present day Vincennes. The British flag would not be raised above the fort on Feb. 25, 1779 as at 10 am the garrison surrendered to Clark. The National Park Service ( interprets and honors Clark and his men so it’s a worthy detour. I’m dating myself but this tale may have been recreated in a Spencer Tracy movie.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sidetracked on my way to Illinois

Last time I talked about my great Midwestern baseball journey that would take me to Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. A travel motivator was to visit major sights related to President Abraham Lincoln. Things were progressing nicely and the itinerary was shaping up until I opened a map.

Yes I know that I violated “guy code” and asked for (really plotted) directions. While performing this map recon and trying to figure out my route from Santa Claus Indiana I noticed that Vincennes Indiana was along the way.

The name Vincennes awoke some fuzzy long term memories so I took a break in place and decided to research this destination. Someone in a history class or in a conversation had mentioned this southwestern Indiana city nestled along the Wabash River. I can’t blame my colleague and good friend Bob Leith because I’ve never been his student but there is a teacher or history buff out there that had planted this kernel of knowledge.

Researching Vincennes as a destination I was quickly reminded of its early American frontier history that included George Rogers Clark, William Henry Harrison, other early pioneers and Native Americans.