Thursday, January 21, 2016


       Travel shows are where travel lovers come for inspiration, insight, and expert information and to hear celebrity speakers. The 2016 San Diego Travel & Adventure Show, January 16-17, once again provided all of this and more. With over 140 exhibits, four travel stages, and a global beats music stage, deciding where to spend my time was a challenge.

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       Here are some of the best TRAVEL TIPS I gathered from the experts: 
       Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter, producer and CBS news travel editor, Peter Greenberg, flies 400,000 miles a year. He is not shy about speaking up when the airlines, hotels and others treat the public unfairly. Here are some TIPS from his fantastic presentation.
      Airline Points: There are 18 trillion unredeemed frequent flyer miles. His advice: REDEEM THEM. They lose value every day.
      Hotel bookings: Everything is negotiable; his advice it to call the manager on duty directly to get a good rate, or some free incidentals like parking or resort fees. Always get the individual's name for verification. If a hotel fails to disclose a charge, you don't have to pay it.
      Online bookings: Peter is a real fan of “having a conversation.” He is fine about doing your research online; however, when it comes to booking, he likes to do it with a real person because they have far more information available to them. We see only about half of available inventory online.
      He is also a strong believer in talking to the local people at a destination to find out what's going on. The people who live there know the most. His motto: it's more important to be interested than interesting. Always ask “Why?”
      Airlines: He frequently hears complaints about the airlines these days; however, when someone complains he asks them: Did you get from point A to point B? Did you get there alive? If the answer is yes to both questions, he tells them they had a good flight. In other words, keep your expectations low.
      Connection time: He warned that it's important to allow plenty of time between flights. He recommends 90 minutes to two hours on domestic and four hours when flying internationally.
      What do you do if you get to the gate and your flight is delayed or canceled (not due to weather or “acts of God”)? If it's a major airline you can evoke the FAA Rule 240. It mandates that an airline with a delayed or canceled flight has to transfer passengers to another carrier if the second carrier could get passengers to the destination more quickly than the original airline.
      TSA: Always avoid the line that has two individuals instead of one looking at the computer screen where the bags are scanned. This is because one of them is a trainee and it will take more time.
      Baggage: If you check bags, and especially if you pack valuables like cameras, electronics, and new purchases, always open the bag at the conveyer belt before leaving the airport to make sure nothing has been stolen. Commonly thieves open the bag, remove the items, and then close it again so you won't notice until it's too late. Better yet, don't pack valuables.

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      Patricia Schultz, author of the best sellers 1,000 Places to Go Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada is always a delight to listen to. (She was advised not to use the word die in the title-I guess she proved the editors wrong.) She has the gift of making every place she talks about sound “Oh, so enticing.”
She had great things to say about Scandinavia, especially Norway, with its fjords, describing it as the most beautifully endowed of the Scandinavian countries. She loves Italy, her favorite city is Venice. She said that her Italian mother had a lot to do with her love of Italy and life, although she credits her German father for instilling a hard-work ethic required to write books. 

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      For photography tips, award-winning photographer, Ralph Velasco, was the guy to listen to. His presentation was full of practical ideas without getting high tech. He has led over fifty small group cultural tours around the world with an emphasis on photography. His latest ebook is titled Essence of a Place: A Travel Photographer's Guide to Using a Shot List for Capturing Any Destination.
#1 Travel Tip: Spend more time on travel and less money on gear.
      Backgrounds: He shared a number of his photos on an overhead screen and frequently pointed out the importance of using the background to provide a sense of place—this is especially important when taking portraits and selfies.
      Shot List: Prepare a shot list ahead of time. It is basically a plan for taking photos in a variety of categories. This will make your photo books and slideshows more interesting. For more information, he offers a free app titled My Shot List for Travel (available only on IOS devices at this time).
      Other Ideas:
--Always stop, look, recognize, and then shoot; don't forget to turn around and look behind you.
--Manipulate the landscape. Take photos in both landscape and portrait mode to see which is preferable.
--Download and back up your photos nightly.
--Have a theme in mind when taking photos—you are more likely to see something if you are looking for it.
--Don't just take photos—allow time to have fun and enjoy the place through the mind's eye.
--Learn from your mistakes.
--Share your photos when you get back.
--If you don't like getting up early you should become a writer.

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      One last tip from me: Visit the exhibitors early in the day before they run out of freebies like candy, pens, and bags and don't forget to enter all of the contests—you might win a free trip.

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