Saturday, January 4, 2014

Planning for Connecting Flights

You know you would rather fly non-stop to wherever you are going, but this isn't always possible or you want to avoid the extra cost. If you have to catch a connecting flight or two, you should know something about the airport(s) where you are connecting and what terminals your airline uses. Here are a couple things I recommend that you look for to avoid the possibility that you will not make your connection. I am going to use Chicago's O’Hare Airport (ORD) as an example since I have had bad experiences with using this airport as a connector.

What are the possibilities of delays?

You would think that delays would help you make your connecting flight, but delays could affect your flight to the connecting airport. Air traffic control is sophisticated enough that your plane may not even leave for your connecting airport until there is a time slot available for landing there.

I have sat on the ground at another airport waiting for the plane to get clearance to take off for O’Hare. I found a survey that showed that O’Hare has one of the worst records for delays. Besides being one of the busiest airports, O’Hare often has thunderstorms in the Summer and snow storms in the Winter. Too many times have I been in a plane that was waiting in line to be deiced before takeoff. A less busy connecting airport farther south may be more reliable.

How far apart are your gates?

You would think that flights with the same airline would have their gates near each other at the connecting airport. This is not always true, especially now-a-days with various airlines merging or using regional carriers. Different terminals could be used when one leg of your flight is in a smaller plane or serviced by a regional partner of the airline.

You can do a little research ahead of time. Find your flight numbers and look at today’s flight status (doing this the same day of the week as your scheduled flights may be more accurate). See what gates are being used and find an online terminal map for the connecting airport to see how far away they are from each other. The gates may change for your actual flights, but they should be fairly close to the gates being currently used.

I have hurried from one terminal to the other at O’Hare, through the underground tunnels with the strange streaks of light, for what seemed to be 20 or 30 minutes. Too often, the gate for my connecting flight is nowhere near where I deplaned.

If you can’t avoid an “undesirable” connecting airport, make sure you give yourself at least an hour to make your connection. There is not much worse than spending several hours at an airport arranging new flight plans after missing a connecting flight. If you do get stuck, ask the airline for a meal voucher for your troubles.

Hope your trip is a good one with carefree connections!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All I Really Need to Know

Yesterday I removed all of my sons certificates and awards that were being proudly displayed on the walls in the hall.  In the center of them all was a poster with advice from Robert Fulghum.  It is called:  All I really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  I'd like to share that since I believe it to be true.
He says:
"All I really need know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Share everything
Play fair
Don't hit people
Put things back where you found them
Clean up your own mess
Don't take things that aren't yours
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody
Wash your hands before you eat
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you
Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday some
Take a nap every afternoon
When you go out into the world, watch  out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together
Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup--they all die. So do we
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learn--the biggest word of all--LOOK
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.  The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.  Think what a better world it would be if we all--the whole world--had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.  Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are--when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together!"

Love it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vacationing in a Cabin

When you think of a cabin, you may have in mind something like what Abraham Lincoln grew up in. If you have stayed in a cabin recently, you probably have a much different image in mind. Now-a- days, a cabin could include just about anything you could think of. The only reason it is called a cabin is because it is built out of logs or rough timber.  After that, it is whatever the builder could image. And since a cabin should be fun, there can be a lot of imagination built into a cabin!

I have seen the following in cabins:
  • Full-sized indoor pool
  • Kitchen with industrial appliances to feed 40 people
  • A bathroom and flat screen TV in every bedroom
  • A large tiered theater room with 10 large overstuffed recliners
  • 3 or 4 stories with a covered porch around each story

Many times you can find the following in any size cabin:
  • Hot tub and/or Jacuzzi
  • A big screen TV
  • A great mountain view
  • Games such as foosball, air hockey, pool table, ping pong, gaming systems, etc.
  • WiFi
  • Gas grill
  • Peace and quiet in the woods
  • Plenty of activities near by

I have stayed in a cozy cabin for 2, a cabin for up to 30 (see photos), and a few in-between sizes. I have enjoyed staying in each one and especially enjoyed the feeling and the beauty of the outdoors.

So the next time you are thinking of going somewhere on vacation, see if there are cabins in the area instead of staying in a hotel. You may catch a more pleasant version of “cabin fever!”.

        From a cabin near Park City, Utah at almost 8 thousand feet! What a view!

         Nice big kitchen. The island seating is in addition to the big dining room table. Loved these chairs!

        The whole gang for our family reunion! The kids loved the theater/game room downstairs.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Take Me Out To The Ball Game.

So, who's ready for baseball to start?  Football is over and many of us are waiting for those famous words, "Play ball!"  The season will be starting before we know it.  Who is your favorite team?  Has anyone been to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York?

 Cincinnati Reds fans have a unique opportunity to  see one of their own inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.  Barry Larkin was born in Cincinnati, attended Moeller High School and was the Reds 1st round pick in 1985.  He debuted with the Reds August 13, 1986. He spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds.  His final game was played October 3, 2004.

Mr. Larkin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame July 22, 2012.  Have you ever dreamed about attending the induction ceremony?  Well, here's your chance.  GeoTrav (an affiliate) has a special motorcoach trip planned to see Barry inducted.  This will be July 21-23.  The cost is only $479.00 per person based on double/twin room occupancy.  Some of the things included in the package are:

  • 2 nights accommodation in Syracuse, NY
  • Breakfast Sunday and Monday
  • Admission to the Syracuse Chiefs/Norfolk Tides AAA baseball game Saturday
  • Admission and a one-year membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum
  • Admission to the induction ceremonies of Cincinnati Reds player Barry Larkin
  • and more.
So, come on baseball fans let's support one of our own.  Call John Vanderplough for more information and to make your reservation 513-939-0599.  Seats are limited, so don't delay.  Tell him you hear it from Memory Vacations.

Until next week.....

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let's Talk Canceled Flights

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Mine, very uplifting and spiritual.
So, who has ever had a flight canceled?  I have had a flight delayed, but I don't recall one being canceled.  My husband, on the other hand, has.  Last year when he was trying to get to Jacksonville, Florida for a conference, his flight was not only canceled once, but TWICE!
I thought I'd share some tips about what to do when bad weather strikes.  I found these in an article on Smarter Travel by Anne Banas.

Bad weather is considered an "act of God" and therefor one basic thing you are entitled to is a refund--no free hotel stays, no transportation, and no food vouchers (thought some airlines might offer these other options at its discretion).
Weather can wreck havoc on travel, but there are some essential tips that will help minimize stress and allow you to take matters into your own hands when your flight is canceled.

Before you go:
1.Reconfirm your flight.  It may be clear where you are, but not necessarily where you are headed.
2. Sign up for alerts.  Most airlines and online travel agencies offer cancellations alerts via email or text.  However, if a big storm is in the forecast, take action and call the airline direct.
3.  Pack smartly.  Keep essential items, including medications, cell phones and chargers, a change of clothes, and toiletries in your carry-on.  It is also a good idea to pack some food, since the options might be limited.

1.  Try all booking avenues. Wait in the customer service line (if at the airport), stay on the phone until you get through to an airline representative, get online, or use social media (some airlines will respond to direct messages on Twitter).  Always program  the phone numbers of all your travel providers into your phone before you leave for the airport.
2. Contact other travel sites.  Try contacting third-party providers, such as the online travel agency you used to book your reservation.
3. Contact all other travel providers. Remember that your hotel, car rental and other reservations will also be affected by a canceled flight.  Don't forget to contact them as soon as possible.
4.  Get a cash refund.  Try to get a cash refund if you decide not to re book within the waiver time frame.  Credits and vouchers for a later date might be hard to use due to hefty restrictions.  If you purchased a trip cancellation insurance policy, see what you can get reimbursed for.

Stuck at the airport
1.  Look for a hotel.  Get online and look for hotels with last-minute availability, or download a last-minute hotel booking app such as HotelTonight or Priceline's Tonight-Only to you phone.  Remember others who are stranded might also be looking for a hotel room.
2. Be polite and ask for help.  While you are not entitled to receive things like food vouchers and other perks, it doesn't hurt to ask.  Just remember to be polite and don't make any demands.  Airline agents will likely be stressed as well, and they will be more likely to help you if you treat them with respect.

I hope these tips are helpful.  Let me know what you think and if you have any other ideas that have worked for you when you've experienced a canceled flight.

Happy travels.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What Did You Do This Weekend?

Boy do weekends sure pass by quickly.  I took a photography class this weekend.  We learned about composition.  All I can say is I have a lot of respect for those who take nature/wildlife pictures.  The photographer kept telling us it takes patience to photograph animals.  Lots of waiting.  With it being so cold, waiting wasn't actually on the top of my list of things to do outside!  My camera didn't want to cooperate, as it kept turning off, but I did manage to get a couple of okay shots.  Once you crop them, they weren't too bad.  I really like to one with the two birds.
I think I'd like to make a visit down to the Smoky Mountains in the fall and photograph the leaves and such.  Anyone else up for a weekend in a cabin in the mountains?  Let  me know if you are.

So, what did you do this weekend?

Until next time.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello 2012!

Wow did 2011 go by quickly.  I ended the year by taking a weekend trip to Chicago, IL.  What a beautiful city. My husband and I took the Mega Bus from Cincinnati to Chicago, and I have to say it was great!  You couldn't drive up for $50, which is what it cost for both of us, round trip.  It was wonderful not to  have to do the driving, and once we got to Chicago we took a taxi to our hotel.
We went up with a couple of friends and had a wonderful time.  We took the Hop on/Hop Off trolley and got to see and learned about the city.  I would definitely recommend it so you can get a feel for the city and what you want to see.  We chose to get off at the Willis (Sears) Tower, and then go up to the 103 floor!  Since I am afraid of heights, I can be kind of limited as to what I do, but I have to say the view of beautiful.  We even took a step out on the "ledge".  AWESOME! (see the pictures below).
We had Chicago pizza, which was yummy!  I couldn't believe how deep dish it is.  I have made it at home, and it turned out pretty good.  I still have to perfect it though.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing Donny and Marie Osmond in their Christmas show.  As always, they put on a wonderful show.
So, if you are looking for a quick weekend getaway, I would recommend Chicago as an option.  I would like to go back and spend a little more time there.
                                          Now that's some kind of pizza!
                                           High in the sky.
                                           The city skyline
                                           Chicago below