JetBlue Lets Family And Friends Earn Frequent Flier Points Together

JetBlue Plane
John Murphy, Flickr

If you’re one of those travelers who flies every now and then but not super often, you’ve probably all but given up hope of ever racking up enough frequent flier points for a free journey. Now jetBlue is giving less frequent travelers a better chance of earning a free flight by letting them pool their reward miles with family or friends.

The airline says its TrueBlue loyalty program will allow a designated group of travelers to accumulate points together. A family who is pooling its points can include a maximum of two adults aged 21 and over and up to five children. But friends who aren’t related can also decide to form a group for the sake of collecting miles. And you don’t have to share all your points either –- family or group members can choose to contribute a percentage of their miles to the group pool. Anyone who is part of the group can then use the points towards an award flight.JetBlue says the new point-sharing option now removes all the obstacles when it comes to redeeming an award flight. The carrier says it doesn’t have any blackout dates and loyalty points don’t expire, meaning families have better chance of accumulating enough miles to make that free trip a reality.

Gifts From Slovenia And Italy

Slovenia
Sean McLachlan

When a trip is over, it’s always nice to open your suitcase and have a little bit of it still with you. I enjoy bringing gifts back to my wife and son so they can share my experiences. While on a recent trip to Slovenia and Italy, I kept an eye out for things they might like.

My trip started at a book festival in Gorizia, Italy. In between the book stalls of Italian publishers and the big tents where authors gave talks, I noticed several West African guys going around with backpacks full of used books for sale. They admitted they didn’t have work papers but they were still out pounding the pavement in the rain. This bit of entrepreneurship didn’t occur to the 12 percent of Italians who are unemployed. Or perhaps they couldn’t be bothered. The difference between people from the Third World and the First was never clearer.

One guy had a book on African cooking. Since my wife reads Italian and wants to learn how to cook African cuisine, I had found my first gift. I also picked up a couple of Italian cooking magazines in Venice. Selfish gifts? Oh yes. I’m looking forward to seeing some of these recipes on the dinner table!

In the unselfish gift category I got some Slovenian honey for my honey-loving honey. It’s a great choice as a gift because it tastes different in every region. I also brought back a bottle of Slovenian wine, another taste that varies from region to region.

Also popping out of my suitcase was a T-shirt for the kid. He loves it because there’s a “dragon” on it (actually it’s a griffin). A couple of refrigerator magnets made their way home too. You can never have too many refrigerator magnets, because you can never receive too many postcards and you need refrigerator magnets to hold them all.

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out our posts on gifts from Estonia and gifts from Japan and Greece. And drop by the comments section to share what you like to bring home!

Adventures By Disney Announces New Options For Europe And Beyond

Adventures By Disney go to Central Europe in 2014
Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney has announced that it is expanding its catalog of travel itineraries for 2014 with new options to Europe and several tours specifically created for the teen traveler. These new additions to the line-up will expand on the company’s already diverse group of tours that are designed to provide adventure travel options for families while delivering a distinctly Disney experience.

New to the Adventures by Disney portfolio is a nine-day escape to Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic that includes visits to the vibrant and cosmopolitan cities of Salzburg, Prague and Vienna. While on the tour, travelers will experience ice caves in the Alps, visit wondrous castles, tour a marionette workshop and get a private after-hours tour of the famed Vienna Zoo – the oldest in Europe.

If Italy holds more appeal over Central Europe, then the new Enhanced Italy tour may be more to your liking. This classic family escape will take travelers to the streets of Rome, Tuscany, Venice and Florence, offering VIP treatment along the way. Highlights include an after-hours visit to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, a private pasta-making class and of course a special gondola ride through the canals of Venice.

Finally, ABD has announced three new adventures designed specifically with teenagers in mind. These options include escapes to Peru, Costa Rica and Arizona and Utah, and feature activities intended for teenagers at each of those destinations. In Peru, for instance, they can go stargazing around a campfire in the foothills of the Andes. In Costa Rica, they’ll take in the exotic and diverse wildlife of the rainforest and in Arizona and Utah, they’ll have the opportunity to go on a bike ride through Boynton Canyon in Sedona. Each of these itineraries was specifically crafted to engage teenagers and allow families with teens to travel together.

Since its inception eight years ago, Adventures by Disney has been providing high quality adventure travel opportunities for the entire family. These new offerings will only expand on the company’s award-winning service while offering more choices for customers. If you’re looking to introduce a little adventure into your next family escape, they can definitely help you accomplish that in a unique and well-crafted manner.

GeoEx Family Adventures Provide Experiences Of A Lifetime

GeoEx Family Adventures designed for all agesAdventure travel company GeoEx is one of the best in the business when it comes to organizing unique excursions to the far corners of the globe. For more than 30 years they’ve been planning trips to some of our planet’s more off-the-beaten-path locations, giving travelers experiences that simply can’t be found elsewhere. In fact, we recently shared five new destinations that the company is adding to its catalog for 2013, expanding their already impressive line-up even further.

While it is commonly known that the company caters to the experienced adventure traveler, not everyone is aware that they also offer a number of fantastic options for families. The GeoEx Family Adventures are designed for travelers of all ages, providing fun and adventurous options for everyone. These trips move at a bit more of a leisurely pace, allowing small children and older members of the family to stay together at all times. They also feature accommodations and activities that are geared for a wide range of ages, making it much easier for a multi-generational clan to enjoy traveling with one another.

Just because these trips are focused on the entire family doesn’t mean that they’ve dialed back on the adventure, however. Options include a hiking, biking and rafting excursion to Costa Rica’s rainforest, a trekking expedition to the Himalaya kingdom of Bhutan and family safaris to both Kenya and South Africa. In short, these are full-blown adventure travel experiences, complete with culture, history and wildlife, that just so happen to also be well tailored for both young and old. And just so parents can rest a little easier on these trips, GeoEx has a 24/7 safety network standing by to lend assistance should the need arise.

If you’re starting to plan options for family travel in 2013, the GeoEx Family Adventures are a great option. Check out the full list of available itineraries by clicking here.

[Photo Credit: GeoEx]

Dreaming Of The RV Life? Here’s Exactly How Much It Costs

The story of a Colorado family of 14 currently trekking and blogging around the country in an RV made “The Today Show” recently, highlighting a particularly dreamy type of wanderlust – and one that reached a peak in 2011 with 8.5 percent of U.S households owning an RV, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. But it’s been hard for the media to get past the sheer absurdity of the Colorado family’s size and talk about the number we really want to know: what’s the price of a permanent vacation?

Luckily, another family with an RV and strong Internet connection has been keeping track of those important nitty-gritty details. RecalcRoute.com’s Jon and Amy Arnold of Indianapolis are 20 months into the cross-country life with their three young daughters, and they posted a detailed cost analysis after a year and 15,689 miles working, homeschooling and playing their way around the western half of the country.

The biggest expense after the $18,500 RV itself? Not gas.Groceries tallied $13,500 for the health-conscious family of five. Though visiting farmers markets is one of the joys of traipsing the country, “it’s not bargain food,” Amy says.

They’ve found that the best cost-saving measure is joining a campground network. Campsites can run around $50 a night in premium locations, and $20 or $30 in state parks. A membership in a network (and the occasional free night “boondocking” in a Wal-Mart parking lot, where RVs are welcome) can lower the expense to an average of $15 a night, freeing up funds to splurge on a site you really want to visit – say, when a relative joins you on the road or you want to stay on Key West, where rates are the highest the Arnolds have encountered.

An $80 annual national-park pass and a space heater (an alternative to burning through your RV’s propane to stay warm) will pay for themselves over and over again, but the Arnolds’ best advice is to think of the trip as your life, not a constant vacation, and to stick to the same kind of budget you would at home.

Studying their thorough cost breakdown will help, too.

[Photo credits: Jon Arnold]