Norwegian Cruise Line Campaign to Reward Teachers with Free Cruise

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Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

Hey teachers: this Norwegian Cruise Line campaign is all about you!

In advance of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10, 2019), Norwegian Cruise Line recently unveiled the “Norwegian Cruise Line Giving Joy”campaign, developed to recognize and reward educators in the United States and Canada.

According to a media release from the cruise line, Norwegian Joy was created to acknowledge and celebrate the intersection of travel and education by honoring deserving teachers “that are doing the most to bring joy to their students.”

Running now through April 12, 2019, the campaign will award 15 teachers who inspire joy in the classroom with an all-expenses-paid seven-day cruise for two on Norwegian Joy and the chance to win $15,000 for their school.

The company is asking for nominations of certified or accredited teachers in the U.S. and Canada who are inspiring joy in the classroom.

The 15 teachers with the most votes will win a seven-day cruise for two.  They will also be provided airfare and accommodations for an award ceremony taking place in Seattle on May 3, 2019, where they will have the chance to win $15,000 for their school.

To nominate a favorite teacher, to vote and for terms and conditions, visit nclgivingjoy.com.  Tell me who you would nominate.

WOW air Seeks Inspiring Women via Social Media Campaign

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Hey, ladies, is there an amazing woman in your life that you look up to? Show her some love on social media and maybe she might be rewarded with a trip.

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Wow air is encouraging Americans to nominate an inspiring woman they known for a chance to win a free trip.

For their contest, this Icelandic low-cost airline is encouraging females across the United Sates to share stories about important women in their lives on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #wowwoman and tagging @wowair between now and March 7, 2019.

On March 8, WOW air will repost the most inspirational stories and give the winner two tickets to a destination of her choice within the airline’s global WOW air network.

To distinguish relevant entries apart from other posts that may use #wowwoman, Facebook and Instagram entries must also include the airline’s handle, @wowair.

For more information about this WOWwoman contest, visit this link. See here for its terms and conditions. Now tell me below, who would you nominate?

Traveling During the Government Shutdown

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Photo taken during the 2013 government shutdown / Scott Kirkwood/NPCA

The impact of current U.S. Government Shutdown is far reaching – and travel is among the sectors being hit.

As of now, museums belonging to the Smithsonian and monuments, historic sites and national parks overseen by the divisions of the federal government are closed. Not only are certain federal employees related to these sites unable to go work and collect a salary, the ones connected to the travel sector that have to – mainly TSA agents and air traffic controllers – are mandated to be on the job but they’re not getting a paycheck while doing so.

Regardless of where you stand on the issues surrounding the shutdown, and not to make this post be a political one, those that work in the tourism sector are feeling its weight.

And so are we who rely on them in getting to and from and even see places. While we all are seeing what happens, and how those impacted financially by it having to make their own choices, I wanted to come up with some ideas of how one can adapt when traveling is impacted by the government shutdown. Here they are:

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Creative Commons photo / whity

For Air Travel

Arrive earlier. I’ve seen news reports of waiting times at TSA security lines at airports reporting to be longer due to a shortage of TSA agents. There are agents who are not coming to work or calling out sick, so of course, less staff means more checking of passengers and test of patience. While the standard arrival time is usually two hours for a domestic flight, and three for international, try to go even earlier than day. True, it stinks to have to have hurry to and wait at the airport, but lines are anticipated to involve more waiting than we might assume. And you don’t want to increase your risk of being late to your gate.

Download the TSA app. There’s an app for just about everything, including one for the TSA that lists wait times at the security screening line. If you’re flying any time soon, you might want to download the TSA app. It will show you the wait times for the TSA lines in your airport. For example, in one news story, TSA lines at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are being reported at 120-plus minutes.

Put your stuff in order. Even as we wait, why not use that spare time to sort and pull out any items that we might fumble with getting out of our pockets or onto the x-ray belt. If you can hold something in or more so with your hands, try putting loose change in a clear plastic bag or place your cellphone within easy reach from your pocket, or making your laptop or 3-1-1 rule bag of toiletries easier to remove from your carry-on bag. A major timesuck at security checkpoints is being disorganized, so even before you leave home get your stuff in check. If you might not need it, don’t bring it.

Thank a TSA agent. Granted, we can have mixed feelings about TSA officials when going through security security  – even I’ve been bummed about having to toss something I’ve forgotten to remove or being embarrassingly corrected – but these times are different. Remember, they’re still coming to work but not getting a dime for it. So, be kind to them; they’re human too. Put yourself in their shoes before yours have to come off.

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Creative Commons photo / Ken

Getting to and from

Read up on the news but verify directly. With transportation, I’m not sure how far reaching the shutdown is in terms of other government-funded departments overseeing transportation such as Amtrak. As of yet, rail travel is still happening. Or seeing if new aircraft can roll out due delays in FAA certification, such as what Delta Air Lines might be finding with their anticipated new Airbus A220 planes. For peace of mind, check in with customer service departments; they might be fielding these questions already.

See if there’s more than one way to get there. If your destination doesn’t involve more than a day’s worth of transportation or one solid method, look at other options. Maybe take a bus, car-share or rental or go by train. If flying is a must, try to go with times where it’s not too busy or involving connections where you might have to hurry along to get to your next gate.

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Creative Commons photo / Sue Waters

Visiting Places

Learn who’s in charge of running the place. It’s probably knowledge now that the U.S. National Parks are either officially closed down or still keeping their gates open but not being staffed by rangers and other personnel. While national parks may be open or not, state parks are mostly like still operational as they are state funded. And some popular landmarks are not under the control of the federal government. For starters, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, two of NYC’s major attractions, are still open.

Be mindful of what you do while you’re there.  While checking on whether or the national park you want to visit is still open to the public, I also strongly recommend on being smart if you’re going ahead. While you can enter some parks, you’re going to be on your own in some sense. Don’t hike or venture to trails or areas without being fully equipped or aware of your surroundings. Chances are, if you get lost or hurt, help might take a while due to not having available park rangers on hand.

Don’t be a jerk either. One heartbreaking bit of news involves permanent damage done to trees in Joshua National Park, because RVers cut them down to create roads that they weren’t supposed to do in the first place! Another problems involve over-flowing garbage cans and over-used toilets, because of a lack of resources to keep up with its removal. Practice a leave only footprints behind manta by taking your trash with you (especially in parks where bears are in habitat; news reports quote rangers saying that accessible trash will give them the impression of seeking out food). If you gotta, um, go, find out what you can do onsite or read up on this great post from REI on the topic.

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Creative Commons photo / Damian Bariexca

Passports

Still apply for your passport. According to their website, the State Department is still processing applications for new passports or renewals. Go online to make an appointment or look for the nearest processing facility near you.

Have your travel plans been affected by the shutdown? Let me know in the comments below.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Travelers

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Creative Commons Photo / Phil Roeder

Are you doing some last-minute Christmas shopping? If you have a traveler or two or more on your list, there’s still time to find a present for them at the store or online. Here are some general gift ideas of items that are available through multiple vendors and can range from fun ideas to practical usage.

Scratch Off Map (or Just a Regular Wall Map and a Container of Pins)

Know someone who travels a lot? A map is a great way for them to remember and mark off where they been, and see where else they have to check off their list. Scratch off maps can be fun in coming across a different color when rubbing off the top foil layer to show their progress. Or go another way with a standard full-sized wall map with a pack of pins that get a bit extra work involved in marking their destinations.

Portable Battery Chargers

Cellphones are more for talking; who really uses it for conversation anymore. Our Android or iPhone acts as a messaging device, a directional guide, a camera, an app service and a portable office. And all of this can get up a lot of your battery, leaving someone you know in a search for an outlet. A portable battery charger can save them in a pinch; all they have to do is fully charge it ahead of time and they’re good to go.

Pickpocket Proof Clothing

Travelers always have to keep their valuables in check; there’s clothing that can help with that. For men and women, there are scarves and pants with hidden compartments that can help hide extra cash or passports. Granted, it’s best to know what your traveler’s sizes are. Not sure? These companies offer the option of a gift card; suggested vendors include Clothing Arts, which centers on pants, or Clever Travel Companion, which extends to tops and bottoms.

Personal Safety Devices

As another concern about personal safety, there are various pocket alarms and devices that travelers can take with them. There are wearable alarms that produce a noticeable sound when activated through the pull of a pin or pressing of a button. One that I suggest is Robocopp, which works by having its pin get pulled out and then letting off a bird chirping sound. Another is Revolar, which is described as being activated with a click. Or consider GE’s Personal Security Window or Door Alarm Kit, which encompasses a key chain, door stopper and window/door alarm.

Wall Plug Adapters

Outlets in hotel rooms or just about every public building outside of the U.S. incorporates the local wattage, wall plug adapters, or also known as convertors, are a good idea. I’ve had a set by Travel Smart for a few years now, where I take the one(s) I need for my destination; the only downside is that I can only plug in one item at a time per adapter I’ve got. There are also all-in-one adapters that can be adjusted to plug in more than one device at one (usually up to three).

Luggage Tags

Even the littlest thing can mean a big deal as a present. And one of them can be a secured bag tag. You can have some fun with selecting one for someone that can be monogramed or engraved, or have a fun pattern. I would say to look for one that has a good strap that can be firmly secured onto the bag’s handle. I bought a faulty one that fell off somewhere in my checked in bag’s journey.

Packing Cubes

As another item that is best for a suitcase, these cubes make packing much stuff in a small bag easier. They’re designed to compartmentalize items or compress clothing for better optimum usage of space. They’re a self-storage necessity and work great for carry-ons. Try brands like Eagle Creek or Flight 001, known for their packing cube sets.

Subscription Box Services

These themed monthly services can bring the world to your doorstep through foods or other items sourced from all over the globe. Each month, Try the World boxes up a culinary journey tied to a specific country with two different subscriptions involving snacks or food staples. For interior design fans, GlobeIn searches for and sources from artisan craftspeople.

What would you buy a traveler as a holiday gift? Let me know in the comments section.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Sales

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Creative Commons Photo / James Evans

For travelers, it’s that most wonderful time of the year for deals. For the 2018 holiday season, here’s a roundup of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday sales and promotions.

G Adventures’ Cyber Week Sale begins after midnight on Tuesday, Nov. 20, and runs until the following Monday, Nov. 26. It involves savings trips on that depart between December 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019. More than 500 different small-group tours on six different continents will be marked down.

Gate 1 Travel will hold its annual Black Friday sale November 21-23. During the three-day sale, customers can save up to $2,500 on all Gate 1 Travel, Discovery Tours and Signature Collection packages. Select promo codes include:

  • Spend $500 or more and receive $50 off with promo code BKFR50
  • Spend $1,000 or more and receive $100 off with promo code BKFR100
  • Spend $2,000 or more and receive $250 off with promo code BKFR250
  • Spend $4,000 or more and receive $500 off with promo code BKFR500
  • Spend $10,000 or more and receive $1,000 off with promo code BKFR1000
  • Spend $20,000 or more and receive $2,500 off with promo code BKFR2500

Customers can book online using the codes on November 22 or by calling 1-800-682-3333 between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST on November 21 and November 23.

Between November 23 and 26, visit Expedia’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday page and get a coupon worth an extra 75 percent off of selected hotels. Deals are available for a limited time only.

Visit Hotels.com between November 23 and 26 and you’ll get a mystery coupon worth anywhere from 7 to 99 percent off your hotel.

Save up to $1,900 per person on air-inclusive packages with Friendly Planet Travel’s Cyber Monday sale. Book travel between midnight ET on Monday, November 26, and 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, November 27.

Intrepid Travel will begin its Cyber Sale on November 20.

On Black Friday only, Perillo Tours is offering $500 off per couple ($250 per person) on all 2019 Italy and Hawaii escorted tours.  The offer is valid on new bookings only for travel January 1 – December 31, 2019.  The 24-hour Black Friday sale is bookable online, via phone or email from 12:01am to 11:59pm on November 23, 2018.  Must use booking code BlackFri18.

Delta is offering Black Friday deals through its website, mentioning savings on “flights to Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and more.”

Visit Hotels.com between November 23 and 26 to get a mystery coupon worth anywhere from 7 to 99 percent off your hotel.

Ryanair has a Cyber Week Sale happening now through November 26.

Qatar Airways A350-1000 Arrives at JFK

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Photo courtesy of Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways welcomed in its new A350-1000 from Doha, Qatar Sunday afternoon, Oct. 25, to JFK airport on the first U.S. route for this high-tech commercial flight.

I got an inside peek at this aircraft, in particular its Qsuite business cabin,  and here is what I saw.

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The airbus will be known by the flight number QR702 and will run as the evening flight of the two daily Qatar Airways flights on a Doha-NYC route.

Along with having its inaugural flight to JFK, the A350-1000 is touting the airline’s QSuite, a business class cabin with a first-class appearance. Upon boarding the aircraft, I walked directly into the business class cabin and my eyes popped.

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The Qsuite in the A350-1000 has double beds, being able to fully lie flat for sleeping and enabling passengers in adjoining seats to create their own personal space. In this position, they literally look like a bed.

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The side entertainment console is complete with a said 4,000 entertainment options and a 21.5-inch movable widescreen. Buttons handling everything from setting massage vibrations to putting on a do-not disturb light (which gives a red background shade to your posted seat number). The units also have privacy panels for stowing away belongings, plus sliding doors for privacy.

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Toiletry kits are nice as well – BRIC’S travel cases containing products by Castello Monte Vibrano. I’m sold. Now, I just have to book a ticket.

 

Take Time Off in Tahiti Travel Contest

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Credit: Tahiti Tourisme

From the e-mail bag: United Airlines is holding a “Time Off in Tahiti” contest to recognize “the hardest working person in the U.S. with the trip of their dreams.” And that trip will be to Tahiti.

Apparently, the contest is inspired by data released by Project: Time Off, which finds that American workers are more likely to “lose” their vacation days that to use them. (That’s not good, people.)

According to Project: Time Off, 700-plus million vacation days go unused annually in the United States, with 52 percent of employees reporting unused vacation time at year’s end.  All told, nearly one-quarter of American workers say they used none of their time off to travel – and that’s a whole lot of happiness waiting in the wings.

So United’s “Time Off in Tahiti” contest probably is helping to fix that problem, at least for one lucky individual. The selected winner will be flown from San Francisco direct to Papeete, Tahiti (PPT), along United’s new route beginning October 30, 2018, to bask in the island’s timeless beauty.

However, he or she has to get someone’s nomination. In 300 words or less, a colleague, good friend or even maybe relative can put in a good word for any hard working, deserving person known personally or admired from afar at united.com/timeofftahiti.

Submissions are due by September 25, 2018; the winner will be notified on or around October 11, 2018. Project: Time Off will aid in the judging of submissions.