|by Sean O'Neill||State Parks, Train Travel, Airfares & Flying||6|
The National Park Service plans to hike entrance fees at more than 100 parks, monuments, and other areas within the next few years. But popular protests could forestall the price hikes. "Park superintendents can recommend that the agency director, Mary Bomar, rescind the increases if enough people protest," says this Associated Press story. This summer, higher park passes and vehicle fees are set for 11 parks, such as Muir Woods and Bryce Canyon. Scores of other parks will see fee hikes after that. By 2009, the most popular parks, such as Yosemite and Glacier (in Montana), will charge up to $50 for annual passes. Fees per person would range from about $5 to $12. Per vehicle, they would be about $10 to $25. To protest, contact the site manager of individual parks. You can find the email or mailing addresses of site managers by looking for individual park webpages, which you can find at the National Park Service's main website, NPS.gov. (Thanks to Kurt Repanshek, author of National Parks of the American West for Dummies, for giving this heads-up on his National Parks Traveler blog.)
Overnight train travelers can often get themselves upgraded to sleeper seats at little cost. On its long-distance routes, Amtrak offers private rooms with seats that fold out into beds. (You'll find Amtrak's description of these rooms by clicking here.) The cost of a roomette is typically several hundred dollars more than a coach seat. But you can often buy an upgrade from coach to this more comfortable spot by paying only about $100 more, according to this story by James Gilden in the L.A. Times. Gilden recommends you take the following three steps to score a comfortable roomette at a low price. First, travel mid-week and at a non-holiday time because demand for upgrades will be weaker. Next, check online at Amtrak.com and buy an upgrade. "See what room you are assigned. If it is a single-digit number, it's likely sleepers are available on that train; Amtrak assigns rooms starting with the lowest numbers first. Then you can cancel the upgrade and take your chances at the station or onboard." For the full article, click here. For other tips and strategies on bargain train rides, see this Budget Travel interview with a top train expert. For tips on Canadian train travel, click here.
Fare sales to Las Vegas and Orlando are getting better at a little-known airline. Allegiant Air is a low-cost airline that focuses on leisure travelers and operates primarily out of Las Vegas and Orlando. Its fares don't show up at the major online travel websites, such as Expedia. But this young, profitable airline uses new jet planes to provide non-stop service to more than a dozen less-trafficked airports, such as Billings, Des Moines, Fargo, Knoxville, and Missoula. Recently, Allegiant has been "slashing fares on the weekend for travel two or three weeks ahead," reports AirfareWatchdog.com. If Allegiant serves your city, you may be able to travel to Sin City or one of the Sunshine State's most popular destinations at a low cost. But you'll have to visit Allegiant's website, AllegiantAir.com, to check its routes, schedules, and fares. For information on two other little-known airlines, Eurofly and Condor, read this blog post at This Just In.