Would You Watch This New Travel Show?

By Rachel Mosely
October 3, 2012
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank"> espensorvik/Flickr</a>

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.

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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&ndash;legged family members feel welcome&mdash;from complimentary pet beds, bowls, and treats to doggie spa services and daily nature hikes. These eight spots go one better&mdash;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&mdash;and you can even arrange dog sitting and walking services through the hotel's concierge. 2. Bachelor and Miner at Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch near Beaver Creek, Colo. The Ritz&ndash;Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado, provides a host of pet&ndash;friendly amenities, including bowls, beds, toys, treats, and all&ndash;natural dog food. The hotel also organizes "Doggie Daybreak &amp; Twilight" hikes and offers in&ndash;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. 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&mdash;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. 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&ndash;service menu, pet&ndash;friendly rooms stocked with treats, bowls and doggie bags, and listings of local pet&ndash;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. 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&ndash;friendly beaches and restaurants nearby. (There's no there's no extra charge for bringing a pet.) 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&ndash;school board games, free Wi&ndash;Fi, and passes to a 24&ndash;hour gym nearby. 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&ndash;year&ndash;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&mdash;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&ndash;acre grounds for your own pets to roam free. 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&ndash;natural jerky and organic dog treats; dog beds can be provided on request. 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&mdash;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&ndash;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&ndash;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&ndash;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&mdash;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&mdash;and then copy those dots right into your guidebook: As much as I love travel sites, I have still not outgrown old&ndash;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&mdash;some very wide so I can see my location within the greater city landscape, some very zoomed in so I can get a street&ndash;by&ndash;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&ndash;app travel planning tips? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 4 Foreign Exchange Apps You Need The Ultimate Guide to Travel Apps Best Apps for Cruisers


Do You Work on Vacation?

Fewer and fewer people are unplugging on vacation&mdash;a recent study by the University of Michigan shows that wireless use is 15 percent higher on vacation. Of course, that doesn't mean that all of these folks are logging on to work&mdash;most of them are checking the local weather, transportation schedules, and restaurant recommendations in their destinations. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('a5e1644c-5406-4f19-855d-c64b9346c1ef'); Get the Poll Creator Pro widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info) That said, there are plenty of people who do log on to work while they're on vacation, myself included. Now that it's easier than ever to get online from anywhere, it can be harder than ever to unplug from the office&mdash;and everyone knows that, your boss included. For me, I actually don't mind logging on while I'm on vacation. I limit myself to 30 minutes once a day to check email and respond to urgent questions. I find that less stressful than returning from vacation to find my inbox about to explode. But not everyone agrees. A good friend of mine simply refuses to check her email when she travels to the extent where she even leaves her computer and her smartphone at home. What about you? Do you make time to work while you're traveling for fun? Vote in our poll! SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Longer Vacations Don't Harm Economy, Studies Say How Do You Pay For Your Vacation? TSA Misstep Causes Teen to Lose Pricey Medical Equipment


How Important Is In-Flight Entertainment to You?

It seems that each time I fly, the entertainment options are more satisfying than the last. For me, “satisfying” means programming that’s appealing to&mdash;and appropriate for&mdash;my two young daughters while also offering a classy movie for my wife and music that, regardless of where I’m flying, can take me from Nashville to Vienna. For as long as I can remember the very phrase "in&ndash;flight movie" has been a simultaneous setup and punch line&mdash;everybody’s got a story about a movie so bad it maybe never even made it to theaters, or a decent film whose content was butchered in the process of editing it for a general audience. When we asked you last spring what you thought of in&ndash;flight movies, you were overwhelmingly underwhelmed&mdash;78 percent of you called airline movie offerings a “mixed bag,” while 8 percent of you flat&ndash;out hated them. (A genial 14 percent said you “love ’em.”) For that 86 percent of you who felt in&ndash;flight entertainment could use a lift, Lufthansa is obliging, at least for sports fans: It’s announced that it now offers live sports television from Sports 24, with a satellite transmission directly to its FlyNet broadband service. The service, available on three new Airbus A330s, is free of charge and will include the 2012 Olympic Games, the Super Bowl, and major tennis, golf, and European football events. Even better, Lufthansa will soon include the Rave system, which essentially puts a tablet&ndash;like system with a touchscreen at travelers’ fingertips; content is stored in each seat, allowing users to access programming without being connected to the Internet or a server. Presumably, this could mean a near&ndash;endless supply of movie, television, and music choices in the near term. We’d love to hear what you think: Is a first&ndash;rate in&ndash;flight entertainment system something that could lure you to an airline you’ve never flown before? &mdash;Robert Firpo-Cappiello MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 11 Surprisingly Lovable Airlines 4 Most Common Reasons Airlines Lose Luggage Airlines Suspected of Fibbing About Seat Availability for Families