Money is biggest stress on vacation, survey shows
Yes, vacations are supposed to be about de-stressing. But there can still be plenty of tension no matter how hard we try to make getaways relaxing.
The top three things that cause friction on vacation are money, sightseeting and food, according to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by independent research company TNS, and commissioned by SpringHill Suites by Marriott. Some 26 percent of Americans said they squabble about how much money to spend when they are on vacation, 22 percent disagree about what to do while traveling, and 9 percent disagree about where to eat while on vacation.Three-quarters of survey respondents said that taking a vacation this year will be vital to their mental health. Among the reasons why, 44 percent cited de-stressing, 37 percent are hoping that getting away will lift their spirits, and 8 percent are hoping that a vacation will help get their relationship back on track.
But despite a resolve to relax, financial stresses find vacationers even when they're trying to disconnect from it all. According to the survey, 64 percent of women and 41 percent of men report feeling guilty about spending money while on vacation.
Certainly, traveling with kids can also add to the stress. To deal with kids who act out on the road, parents said they either snapped at youngsters, ignored them or took some deep breaths.
So, how do vacationers bounce back from a stressful scenario?
There's nothing like a good nap, or a long night's sleep to relieve tensions. Americans cited sleep as the number one activity that is most likely to relieve stress after a conflict while on vacation.
What about you? What stresses you out most while on vacation, or do you successfully detach and relax? Let us know by voting in our poll or sharing your best, and worst, stories of tension and relief below.
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Should airlines allow U.S. soldiers to board planes first?
In mid-May, United began early boarding for uniformed military personnel. Soldiers board before all other passengers, including first-class passengers, the disabled, and families with infants. The decision copies a longstanding policy of United's merger partner, Continental. Since the policy change, the FlyerTalk discussion boards for frequent fliers have been hot with a debate about whether this policy is the right one. Speaking for myself, and very much not on behalf of Budget Travel, I think this policy of early boarding for uniformed military personnel is a bad idea. Some airlines allow soldiers to board first and other airlines do not. It's a reasonable question to debate whether early boarding is a good idea or not. I'm just presenting one view, of course. Please share your own opinions by posting a comment below. Like all patriots, I salute our soldiers for pledging their honor and their lives to defend our people and the Constitution. They represent the best of our nation, and they deserve our gratitude. But my friends and family who are service members are also big believers in humility and integrity. Ask them why they serve and they say they are just doing their job. They also value living in a democracy that does not engage in uniform worship or put soldiers on a pedestal above police officers, firefighters, and other heroes. United and Continental may be honestly attempting to show appreciation to U.S. soldiers by encouraging them to board first. I'm sure for many individual employees at the company it's a policy they're proud of and that is enforced from the heart. Yet some of us suspect that the airlines have additional motives that may be less patriotic and more business-minded. Maybe the early boarding policy is a public relations move to make other passengers feel sentimental about the airline because of the gesture. Over at the travel site Upgrdr, Matthew, a former member of the Air Force and a current frequent flier, highlights a couple of other ways for airlines to show gratitude to the men and women who preserve our freedom and safety: 1. Encourage passengers and employees to donate time and money to causes that help military families. Actively promote these programs and provide corporate matching donations. 2. Coax passengers into donating some of their frequent flier miles to a program that gives free tickets to military personnel who were injured in Iraq. The Hope Miles program is run by Fisher House and authorized by the Department of Defense. US Airways is one of many airlines that suggets passengers donate their miles to the program. I also realize that the U.S. military is one of the biggest customers of both United and Continental because of those airlines' large route networks and longstanding ties. The airlines may want to treat their biggest customer especially well to make sure they continue to earn the military's business. But wooing government business could be done in other ways than having uniformed service members board planes first. One option: Let all active duty service members and their dependents traveling with them qualify automatically to receive the first seat upgrade available on a flight, as spacing permits, ahead of high-status members of frequent flier programs. In that way, airlines could give support to our armed forces without making a big show of it before crowds of passengers. The recent decision by many Delta, American, and other airlines to relax their checked-bag rules for service members is another example. But what do you think? Is it a good idea for the military to board planes before all other passengers? Please sound off in the comments. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Is it cheaper to fly or drive? Renting a car? Beware of getting gouged on gas prices Wheel Deals: Alternatives to Renting at the Airport
Rental car companies charge frequent flier mile redemption fees
Times are undoubtedly tough for rental car companies, who struggle to cope with high oil prices and the related fallout. But it's hard to feel sorry for them as they charge travelers absurd fees. An especially annoying surcharge you may not be aware of is for frequent flier mile redemption. Say you're booking a car in the U.S. You see a space on the online reservation form inviting you to enter your membership number in your favorite frequent flier program. It seems like you're being offered a free way to pocket frequent flier miles, which can eventually be cashed in for a plane ticket. But there's a catch. The companies charge various amounts for this "service," up to a dollar a day. For instance, Hertz assess a frequent flyer surcharge on rentals in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico that earn miles on specific U.S. airline programs, says a company spokesperson. While the surcharge varies, on many airlines it is $.75 per day with a maximum of $5.25 per rental. For some airlines, such as American, the surcharge is approximately $.06 per day. The solution: Keep your frequent flier details to yourself unless you are participating in a promotion where your airline lavishes you with generous mileage bonus for renting a car. Now one dollar a day may seem like small change to some people, but the fee is offensive in principle. If you travel fewer than 50 miles a day on the road, you're essentially paying two cents a mile to buy miles. Yet the average value of frequent flier miles is less than two cents. The surcharge was not clearly disclosed on most of the agency sites we checked. So travelers using these sites don't realize that what they're effectively doing is buying frequent flier miles instead of earning them for free. To see all the fees rental car companies charge for various airline frequent flier programs, check out AirfareWatchdog's impressive chart. The surcharge is, of course, just one of many you need to keep an eye on as you book a rental car. Alamo charges a fee if you return a car early. Thrifty charges a $25 daily fee for drivers ages 21 to 24. And so on. Share your thoughts about rental car fees by posting a comment. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL How rental car companies undermine credit card insurance 3 ways to save on car rentals this summer Hertz promo waives $25 daily fees for young renters, but it isn't that good of a deal
Google is Mapping the Amazon
The Google Street View team has landed in the Amazon, visually mapping the river and rain forest to provide an on-the-ground look at this endangered habitat. In an effort to help promote awareness of the Amazon as one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, Google has partnered with the Sustainable Amazon Foundation to map the region by boat and by bicycle. In addition to its core team members, Google has also employed local indigenous people to pedal around their communities, snapping photos of some of the 350 indigenous and ethnic groups that reside here. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('7f4ab78d-84a1-4135-830c-67b148ce2530');Get the Poll Creator Pro widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info) It's a big undertaking with no known timeline as of yet—after all, the Amazon is two-thirds the size of the U.S.! In the meantime, take our poll and vote for the next location you think Street View should tackle. Don't see it on the list? Add your vote in the comments below. Have you used Google Street View when planning a trip? If so, how did a virtual poke-around-town help you? SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Google Street View Travels Inside Museums Finding a hotel is as easy as pointing to a [Google] map Little-Known Travel Tricks With Google Maps
Coming Soon: No More Hidden Airline Taxes And Fees
Tired of the growing number of hidden baggage fees, seat upgrades and meal costs the airlines keep springing on us? Well, the U.S. Department of Transportation has vowed to put an end to the endless surprises. Starting Jan. 24, the DOT is putting into effect a new rule whereby all taxes and fees will have to be included in the advertised airfare. Specifically, the DOT is requiring all fees for optional aviation services be prominently displayed on carriers' websites. Already, some carriers and travel companies are starting to display their fees and taxes upfront in advance of the DOT's deadline. MLT Vacations, for instance, which operates United Vacations, Delta Vacations, Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations, this week started including all hotel and flight taxes and fees it its pricing, ahead of the full fare advertising requirements. Previously, MLT noted all of the taxes and fees separately in the terms and conditions section of each advertised special. MLT calls its new way of displaying its prices "No-Surprise Pricing." "Technically, our prices won't increase because we are only adding in taxes and fees what would have been added further down the booking path," explained Bryan Olson, director of revenue and distribution programs at MLT. However, he noted that specials and promotions "will appear higher than our competitors' because many of them have not yet updated their pricing to fit the DOT’s full fare requirement." Lufthansa has also started including taxes and fees in its fare prices in response to customer feedback. "The shift comes in response to recent conversations with customers through various social media channels," Lufthansa said in a statement. The message, according to the airline was "that the public wants immediate access to final ticket prices when researching fares." "Travelers want the bottom line figure spelled out for them upfront," Juergen Siebenrock, vice president for Lufthansa’s Americas division, said in a statement. Doubtful few flyers would disagree with that. More from Budget Travel: Hotels: What on Earth Are "Tax Recovery Charges?" Should Airlines Have to Allow One Free Checked Bag By Law? Are holiday sweaters the new TSA target?