Seamless Travel Plan In The Works For EU

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Rochester Scouser/Flickr

Traveling in, around or through the European Union‘s 28 nations is not like traveling around the 50 United States. Different countries have different rules, systems and procedures in place.

But what if it was?

Looking to streamline the process, the European Commission is working on a system to make travel across the continent easier.

One of the intended points of having a European Union was to allow more freedom of movement of people, goods and services. While the euro zone monetary union has helped standardize forms of payment, plans to develop a model for a pan-European information and booking system could standardize the procedure for booking various modes of transport including air and rail.

“To make the best use of all existing transport modes and infrastructure, we need to ensure the availability, accessibility and exchange of all relevant information, such as schedules, capacity and paths,” said Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of transport, in a Travel Mole report.

Think that sounds like a good idea? Not everyone agrees, as we see in this video:

EU Air Traffic Plan Prompts Strikes Across Europe

Help The National Park Foundation Fill Its Summer Scrapbook For A Chance To Win A National Park Adventure

Yellow Stone National Park
Kraig Becker

Now that summer is officially here, the National Park Foundation is opening up its Summer Scrapbook and they’re asking us to help them fill it. The NPF is inviting the public to share their favorite photos, videos and travel tips from America’s national parks and in exchange, they’re giving us a chance to win one of two trips to two of the country’s most iconic national parks.

The contest is a simple one. All you need to do is visit the Summer Scrapbook page and share your photos in one of several categories that includes such subjects as sunrise/sunset, wildlife, history and culture and more. There is also a category for short videos and one for posting helpful tips for visiting the parks. You can enter as many as ten items between now and Sept. 8 with each entry increasing your chance to win. On Sept. 10, the Park Foundation will announce ten finalist in each category and the general public will be asked to vote for their favorites. Voting closes on Sept. 30 and everyone who casts a vote will be automatically entered to win a trip through the Grand Canyon by train.

The person who wins the overall popular vote for the best photo, video or travel tip will also win a trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the most spectacular destinations in the entire U.S. park system. Meanwhile, the individual winners of each of the categories will also receive a National Park Explorer Pack that includes outdoor gear from L.L. Bean and Marmot, as well as gifts from the National Park Foundation and several of the parks themselves.

So, if you’ve got some great park photos in your collection, add them to the Scrapbook and see if you can’t win a trip to make even more great national park memories.

Nat Geo Television Stars Offer Alaska Travel Tips

Alaska Travel Tips - Don't Miss Denali!There is no question that Alaska is one of the top adventure travel destinations in North America, if not the entire world. The brief Alaskan summer brings incredible opportunities for climbing, backpacking, camping and fishing, giving visitors a chance to explore everything the state has to offer in relatively warm conditions. During the winter, Alaska becomes the ultimate outdoor playground for those who enjoy cold weather escapes. From dogsledding and snowshoeing to cross country and heli-skiing, it is paradise for the adrenaline junkie and explorer alike.

Covering an area more than twice the size of Texas, Alaska is by far the largest state in the Union. That makes it a daunting place for travelers, who often struggle to determine what it is that they want to see and do in the limited time that they have there. Fortunately we were able to call in some local experts to provide Gadling readers with some great travel tips for visiting the 49th state. These experts all happen to be residents of Alaska and they also happen to be featured on two new television shows that are debuting soon on the National Geographic Channel. They have been kind enough to share their thoughts on the best experiences that Alaska has to offer.

Our first two experts are Dallas Seavey of Willow and Marty Raney of Wasilla, both of whom appear in the new Nat Geo show “Ultimate Survival Alaska,” which debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The show drops eight survival experts into the Alaskan backcountry, where they must cross 3000 miles of remote wilderness with nothing but the gear on their back. Dallas is best known as the youngest winner in the history of the infamous Iditarod sled dog race, while his co-star Marty is a mountain guide who has led 17 successful expeditions to the summit of Denali – also known as Mt. McKinley.Dallas recommends that visitors to his state take a scenic drive to really get immersed in the Alaskan landscapes and culture. He says:

Alaska Travel Tips - Dallas Seavey“It’s hard to see all of Alaska in one trip. But if I only had a week to go to Alaska I would travel between the coastal town of Seward, where I grew up, and Willow (4.5 hours north) where I live now. This would give you a good sampling of what Alaska has to offer. Between these two locations is one of America’s top ten most scenic highways and many of the “must see” sights. While the summer months are by far the most popular for guests, I would also consider seeing Alaska in the winter when the state boasts it’s most unique and extreme side.”

On the other hand, Marty says if you have just one day to kill, under no circumstances should you miss his favorite mountain:

Alaska Travel Tips - Marty Raney“Here in Alaska there are a million things to do. To choose just one, I would recommend a drive or a train ride from Anchorage International Airport to Talkeetna. There you would take a flightseeing tour of Mt. McKinley. It’s the most impressive thing in one day any average Joe could do. There is nothing like it on planet earth. Landing at base camp, you will stand on glaciers one mile thick, while one of the tallest mountains in the world looms above. Dwarfed by mile high granite spires cloaked with thousands of deep blue hanging glaciers, you quite possibly will be scared s—less. This breathtaking, beautiful landscape-and also foreboding and eerie landscape-will be up close and personal. It is a masterpiece of God’s handiwork. You will realize your insignificance like never before. It’s surreal. It’s spiritual. It’s meditative. It’s contemplative. Whether atheist or believer, it will be the loudest sermon you’ve ever heard.”

Our other two Alaskan experts are Andy Bassich from the town of Eagle and Sue Aikens of Kavik. They’ll both appear on the show “Life Below Zero” when it debuts next Sunday, May 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. That program follows the lives of six Alaskans who live off the land, scraping out a life in one of the harshest environments imaginable. Andy and his wife Kate live along the beautiful, but remote, Yukon River, which freezes solid each winter, completely cutting them off from civilization for months at a time. They may have it easy compared to Sue, however, as she is actually the sole inhabitant of the Kavik River Camp, which is located 197 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Andy tells visitors that they shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the river on which he lives. He says:

Alaska Travel Tips - Andy Bassich“An experience you will never forget is a three day to two week float down the Yukon River. It is a very peaceful way to experience the true wilderness via a canoe, which was the traditional way of travel in the early years. You could float up to 50 miles a day, and in addition to amazing scenery you’ll see moose, bears, eagles and many other types of birds and wildlife. I recommend camping along the shores of Island, and fishing the feeder streams for grayling pike and shee fish. You also may get lucky enough to meet the hardy people who have carved out a quality life along the Yukon River. You’ll experience true quiet and solitude at a relaxed safe pace. It’s also a great trip for novice.”

Meanwhile, Sue tells us we shouldn’t overlook a visit to the remote high Arctic:

Alaska Travel Tips - Sue Aikens“My home (Kavik) in the high Arctic puts me in the center of the great caribou migration, the migratory bird path and nesting grounds as well as having the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out my door. In some ways even I will never have enough time to see all that my own area has to offer, but with careful planning and homework done, you could easily chip away at seeing and experiencing some of this state’s s most beautiful and challenging experiences. Fly fishing, rafting, hiking in untouched areas, and watching 500,000 Caribou thunder past on their migration route. I can raft down wild rivers and see rare and wonderful sights, and you can too!”

There you have it, great travel advice from four Alaskans who have intimate knowledge on what their state has to offer. You might not be able to take advantage of all of their suggestions on your visit to the state, but they’ll certainly provide a nice starting point.

[Photo Credits: National Park Service, National Geographic]

Travel Credit Cards Promise Savings, But At What Cost?

travel credit cardsTravel Credit cards that offer a sign-up bonus or cash back, or accumulate points that can be translated into savings on travel are surely worth a look. If just changing from one card to another will bring free flights, hotel stays, car rentals or funds to buy gear, why would any budget-minded traveler not do that? Often, we have to look beyond the headline to get to the real story.

Cardhub is back this week with an updated list of the Best Travel Credit Cards for 2013 featuring the best deals, selected from more than 1,000 different offers. Hoping to “help consumers save as summer vacation planning gets into full swing,” Cardhub told Gadling in an email this week that “the right credit card can save consumers hundreds of dollars on summer travel.”

That claim looks to be valid too. Switching to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example, will bring a 40,000-point reward bonus.

Thinking along the lines of airline points, that’s about what it takes for a round-trip ticket to Europe from North America. True, but airline points are not what we get with this offer. Those 40,000 points are redeemable for $500 in travel accommodations booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program or a $400 statement credit. To get that, cardholders are required to spend $3000 during the first three months the card is open.Still, the most conservative result, $400 credit on the account, is a nice payday for doing very little work. But if transferring a balance from an existing account, there is a $150 charge, which eats away at the gain. Traveling with the card brings some advantages though. Chase charges no foreign transaction fees for purchases made abroad and there is no annual fee for the first year ($95 after that).

Some other factors to consider include the effect of trying to get this card on your credit score, even if declined. Planning on a major purchase in the near future, like a home mortgage? Real estate expert Anthony Gilbert lists applying for new credit cards and closing old ones as two of the six top things not to do before applying for a mortgage in a RealFX article.

“Too many credit inquiries over a relatively short period of time, are never a good thing for your credit score,” says Gilbert, adding “when you close any credit card, you may easily, yet innocently raise your “debt to credit limit ratio” – which can preclude a mortgage approval, or cause you to pay a higher interest rate.”

Speaking of credit score, you’ll need a pretty good one for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The people at CreditKarma say the average score accepted by Chase is 730, considered excellent by those who track such things.

That’s not to say credit card savings are not out there. The $0 fraud liability guarantees, the lowest possible currency conversion rates and complimentary rental car insurance coverage offered by many cards can add up fast.


[Photo credit – Flickr user theMaykazine]

Travel Inspiration, One Step At A Time

travel

It’s not so much where we travel, but what we do when we get there that matters. For those who run in real life, there is nothing better than doing so at a remote location.
Like to hike? Getting away from the normal routine to engage a totally different terrain can bring new life to your passion for the sport.

But we don’t need to be into skiing, surfing, biking, climbing or backpacking either.

Many travelers find the first step towards the adventure of a lifetime starts with something simple. A photo posted by one friend on the road, a tweet full of fun from another at some festival or an old-fashioned phone call filled with unbridled joy can be just the inspiration we need to start planning.

Check out this video, pack your bags and hit the road; it can be just that easy to make some meaningful travel happen in your life right now.




[Photo credit – Chris Owen]