Would You Decline an Upgrade to Be Closer to a Travel Companion?
Not that long ago, we did a story on how to get a free upgrade—a worthy endeavor, for sure. But now I am wondering—what if you received an upgrade, but your travel companion did not? Would you take it? Or would you politely decline?
I used to travel with a friend who was an elite flyer. Most of the time the two of us would get upgraded together, but every so often he would be upgraded and I would not. More often than not, he would accept the offer to move to first class, while I stayed behind in coach.
I tried to be understanding—he was 6'2" and needed the extra leg room—but it was hard to feel happy for him when he would stroll back into coach, cocktail in hand, while I was still struggling to fit my luggage in the overhead bin and make myself comfortable in the middle seat in the middle row.
As with so many things in life, this situation reminds me of a hilarious Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets upgraded to first class while his friend, Elaine, suffers in coach.
To this day I do not begrudge my friend the decision to upgrade, even though it stung a little to be left behind—as I said, he was tall and I am not. But I don't know if I could upgrade and leave my travel companion behind. I would feel too guilty. Then again, if it were him I was leaving behind in coach, I might enjoy turning the tables—just once.
So what would you do? Vote in our poll or tell us below.
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Atlantic City's New Star: A 3D Boardwalk Sound And Light Show
Starting July 4th, Atlantic City will flaunt its latest attraction, a high–tech 3D sound and light show featuring state of the art visual effects by The Moment Factory and an original score by composer Vincent Letellier. The show will take place twice an hour beginning at dark and lasts eight and a half minutes. Best seen from Kennedy Plaza, the show is free and open to the public, projected onto Boardwalk Hall (formerly known as the Atlantic City Convention Hall), and can be seen from the Boardwalk, beach, and from as far away as Caesars Pier. The 3D sound and light show is part of a five–year tourism initiative by The Atlantic City Alliance, a move to introduce more interactive public art displays to the city that also double as free and family–friendly attractions. “While the world's great museums showcase art for appreciation as well as scholarship, moving art outside to the blank canvas of the sky, the ocean and the historic Boardwalk here in Atlantic City can be a catalyst to evolve how people think about our city," said Liza Cartmell, President of the Atlantic City Alliance. "Atlantic City has long been known as a place that pushes the limits to showcase the new and the unique and this is just one more example consistent with its history of innovation". Here's a short video clip about the making of the Sound and Light Show, with a sneak peak of the kinds of visual special effects in the show, including one that gives the appearance of the building crumbling before your eyes, only to have it reappear with a new lit up, futuristic look. Everything you'll see in the show celebrates Atlantic City's past, present, and future, and all the things that make it a memorable vacation spot. For those of us on the east coast, Atlantic City is relatively easy to get to—it's about an hour ride from Philadelphia, a 2.5 hour drive from New York City, or a 3.5 hour road trip from the Washington D.C. area. You can also use New Jersey Transit to get to and from Atlantic City—there's an express bus that departs from Port Authority, Newark, Jersey City, and Atlantic City for $39 round–trip—and budget buses like Greyhound's Lucky Streak Service and Megabus offer cheap rides for roughly $15 to $50 round–trip depending on which city you're coming from. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel 12 Family Trips Budget Travel Editors Love 10 Best Budget Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts
Would You Watch This New Travel Show?
Next Thursday, The Travel Channel will premiere Trip Flip, a dream for the spontaneous traveler. On the high–octane new offering, host Bert Kreischer will approach vacationers with the option of taking their trip to the next level, with the promise of once–in–a–lifetime adventures, upgrades, VIP treatment, and even celebrity encounters. All they have to do is say "yes." Sounds easy enough, right? But then again, they're saying yes to nothing more than a promise from a stranger. You can take a sneak peek at the show here. Would you take Kreischer's challenge? I don't know that I'd say yes, but after a look at the preview, I might have to add Trip Flip to my DVR list, since I'd like to see what happens to the braver souls who do. When I'm not able to travel myself, I get a surprising amount of comfort from the small screen. A couple of my favorite globe–trotting shows: House Hunters International and the old Travel Channel standby Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Both admittedly favorites because they combine travel with other weaknesses of mine (house/apartment envy and food, respectively). Living vicariously through other travelers, it turns out, is a lot more fun than it sounds. Trip Flip premieres next Thursday, June 28, at 9 p.m. EST on the Travel Channel. What are some of your favorite travel shows? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Anthony Bourdain's New Series, The Layover, Debuts 5 Travel Shows You’ve Never Seen—But Should! Confessions of... A TV Show Crew Member
America's Cutest Hotel Pets
According to a 2011 Tripadvisor survey, 47% of American pet owners plan to travel with their pets this year, and more and more hotels are devising ways to make those four–legged family members feel welcome—from complimentary pet beds, bowls, and treats to doggie spa services and daily nature hikes. These eight spots go one better—they all have resident pets of their own. Have you ever stayed at a hotel with a particularly charming furball? CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PETS! 1. Nikos at Hotel Palomar Los Angeles The Hotel Palomar in Los Angeles's Westwood neighborhood rolls out the red carpet for all kinds of canines. There are no size or weight restrictions for dogs, and no deposits or extra cleaning charges, etiher. Guest rooms are equipped with pet beds, food and water bowls, poop bags and walking maps—and you can even arrange dog sitting and walking services through the hotel's concierge. hotelpalomar-lawestwood.com 2. Bachelor and Miner at Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch near Beaver Creek, Colo. The Ritz–Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado, provides a host of pet–friendly amenities, including bowls, beds, toys, treats, and all–natural dog food. The hotel also organizes "Doggie Daybreak & Twilight" hikes and offers in–room dog massages for those serious about pampering their pups. A resident Saint Bernard named Bachelor and an English Cream Golden Retriever named Miner act as the resort's canine ambassadors. The hotel charges a $125 cleaning fee for the first three night's of a pet's stay (and $25 per night thereafter), and donates $25 of each pet's fees to the ASPCA. ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/BachelorGulch 3. Matilda at the Algonquin in New York City One of the most famous hotel pets in the U.S. is Matilda, a Ragdoll cat who holds court in New York City's Algonquin Hotel. (There have actually been a series of Matildas over the years—the first one lived here in the 1930s.) The hotel throws her a birthday party each year in August, and as of 2009, when the Algonquin [hearts] Pets program launched, the hotel also welcomes guests' pets (for no additional fees). This May, the historic hotel unveiled the results of its latest project: a multi-million-dollar renovation to its guest rooms and lobby. algonquinhotel.com 4. Rowdy and Stella at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country near San Antonio The adoption this year of rescued golden/Labrador retriever mixes Rowdy and Stella spurred the creation of the Hyatt Regency Hill Country's new pet program, which includes a Canine Cuisine room–service menu, pet–friendly rooms stocked with treats, bowls and doggie bags, and listings of local pet–supply shops, veterinarians, pet sitters, and area walking trails and dog parks at the concierge desk. (Additional cleaning fees apply.) You can even treat your pet to a shampoo or a pedicure at the resort's spa. hillcountry.hyatt.com 5. Sandie at the Indigo Hotel San Diego Sandie doesn't always work the front desk at the Hotel Indigo in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. But there are plenty of perks for pet owners no matter who checks them in. The hotel supplies guests with bowls, dog beds, and treats, and directs visitors to pet–friendly beaches and restaurants nearby. (There's no there's no extra charge for bringing a pet.) hotelinsd.com 6. Penny at the Nolitan Hotel, New York City Penny, a German Shepherd mix, holds the title of Director of Pet Relations at the Nolitan Hotel, a boutique property that opened in New York City in August 2011. There's a $100 fee for putting up pets in the Nolitan, but that covers cleaning charges and a welcome basket of treats on toys upon your arrival. Amenities for human guests include free bike (and skateboard) rentals, old–school board games, free Wi–Fi, and passes to a 24–hour gym nearby. nolitanhotel.com 7. Fred and Ed at High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, NC How many hotels can claim two miniature donkeys among their attractions? So far we only know of one: The 90–year–old High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, NC. Guests can get some face time with the diminutive donkeys by feeding them snacks of carrots and apples picked up from the inn's kitchen. Don't worry: Fred and Ed pull their own weight at the resort—and your kids' weight, too, when they lead hayrides around the property in the summer. There's also plenty of room on the 1,400–acre grounds for your own pets to roam free. highhamptoninn.com 8. Monty at Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah Dogs up to 45 pounds are welcome to join Monty the Saint Bernard at Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah for a $100 fee; limit of two dogs per room. The fee covers a welcome treat, all–natural jerky and organic dog treats; dog beds can be provided on request. montagedeervalley.com MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Ask Trip Coach: Top Tips for Traveling With Your Pet Readers' Cutest Pet Photos 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel
Forget Apps! What Are Your Favorite Old-School Travel Planning Tips?
Trust me. I like apps as much as the next traveler. TripIt, Google Maps, HotelTonight—they’ve all become almost indispensable tools. But what happens when you’re traveling abroad? Those dreaded data and roaming fees can add up extremely quickly when using apps that require the web. I just got back from a two–week trip through Europe on which I challenged myself to not use any travel apps. First, as a way to save money. Second, as a way to see if I’ve become too reliant on technology. Here are four of my favorite old–school planning strategies: Write hotel information in large block letters on a card: I never assume that my shoddy pronunciations of the local language will be understood by taxi drivers. As a result, I always carry along a small card with the name and address of my hotel in big, easily–readable block letters. That way, I can just flash the card and know I will get where I need to go. If your hotel isn’t on a major road, it’s also helpful to include a small phrase in the local language with a brief reference to the hotel’s location ("one block west of the park," "near the bridge," "next to the contemporary art museum"). You can usually either find a phrase on the hotel’s website—or just use Google Translate! Make small currency conversion cards for your wallet: For each country I visited, I made a small card (I wrote on the back of old business cards) with conversions for common dollar amounts ($1, $5, $10, $20). Sure, tiny fluctuations in conversion rates might mean you’ll be off by a few cents, but it’s better than always reaching for your currency conversion app. Use Google Maps at home—and then copy those dots right into your guidebook: As much as I love travel sites, I have still not outgrown old–fashioned guidebooks. I like to use Google Maps before I depart and plot hotels, restaurants, shops, parks, museums, and historic parks that I plan to visit. I then simply copy the dots directly onto the maps in my book, with references to walking times and distances between locations as a handy cheat sheet. Print Google Maps at various zooms: Any city you go to will have free maps at the tourism office. But I like to print out Google Maps at all different zoom levels—some very wide so I can see my location within the greater city landscape, some very zoomed in so I can get a street–by–street walking plan. This is especially helpful for cities with historic Old Town cores, where every tiny alley and winding cobblestone street might not make it onto the tourist map. Do you have any great anti–app travel planning tips? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 4 Foreign Exchange Apps You Need The Ultimate Guide to Travel Apps Best Apps for Cruisers