Bring clothespins and sleep in – Hotel tip

Why is it always impossible to close hotel curtains all the way? It’s always that little sliver of light that shines through the crack in the hotel curtains that’ll wake you up on a vacation morning when you very much want to sleep in.

Remember to pack a few clothespins in your bag whenever you travel, and wake up on your own terms by pinning the curtains together.

Closing that little gap will keep your room a lot darker by blocking the morning sun. You’ll also block the street and other outdoor lights at night.

Is the TSA too rough with your stuff?

While waiting in line, just about everyone bitches and moans about the airport security screening process. But of the over 500 million fliers this year, only 12,000 have filed official complaints with the Transportation Security Administration. The rest of us just air our grievances on our blogs.

The number one complaint this year is that the TSA screeners mishandle personal property. This includes when items get damaged in the screening process, as well as lost and stolen. A TSA spokeswoman insists that the agency takes theft very seriously, and that the “TSA has let officers go who’ve taken 50 cents out of a bowl.” It’s good to know they care — but we’re not impressed with how long it took them to catch one agent who had stolen over $200,000 worth of travelers’ property.

The second largest complaint the agency gets is reports of rude treatment. Most TSA agents I’ve crossed paths with recently have been perfectly friendly, but it just takes one meanie to leave a long lasting bad taste in a traveler’s mouth — and most security lines have at least one meanie, I’ve noticed.

If you have complaints for the TSA, they urge you to share your comments on their official website, You can also call with complaints or fill out comment cards at the airport.

Ritz-Carlton announces Ritz-Carlton Reserve for global travelers

Looking to expand the company’s luxury brand to the far corners of the planet, the Ritz-Carlton has officially announced the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort in Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand.

These new resorts will be built in beautiful, remote destinations, with the guest suites designed for peaceful relaxation and seclusion, while resort amenities will feature all the luxury that is associated with the Ritz-Carlton name.

The Phulay Bay resort was designed by Thai architect Lek Bunnag, giving the property a modern style with local flavor. The guest rooms have gorgeous views of the Andaman Sea as well as private plunge pools and sheltered outdoor baths and rainforest showers. Public amenities at the resort include an infinity pool, fitness center, spa, casual and fine dining, cooking and batik painting classes, and an event space perfect for wedding of up to 80 guests.

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve is now taking reservations for Phulay Bay for 2009. Visit for more information. Future resorts are planned for Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos and The United Arab Emirates.

NASA wants $42 million for retired space shuttle

NASA has three space shuttles scheduled for retirement in the next two years, and for the first time ever, museums will have to shell out big bucks if they want to display the crafts.

NASA estimates that it will cost $42 million to get each shuttle ready for display — including $6 million to transport it — and they are asking the museums to foot the bill. NASA has never charged institutions like the Smithsonian in the past, but with the Ares I rocket and Orion capsule believed to be well over budget, NASA insiders say the program needs to pinch pennies wherever possible.

$42 million seems steep, but NASA isn’t trying to squeeze a profit out of these charges. This is simply their estimated cost for safing, display preparation, and transportation of a shuttle. “Safing” means decontamination of the fuel systems and removal of other safety and environmental hazards.

No museums have commented yet as to whether or not they would be willing to pay NASA’s asking price, which, by the way, is “subject to change.”

Click the images to learn about the most unusual museums in the world — from funeral customs, to penises, to velvet paintings, to stripping.

Sounds of Travel: Eddie From Ohio

Here at Gadling we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite sounds from the road and giving you a sample of each — maybe you’ll find the same inspiration that we did, but at the very least, hopefully you’ll think that they’re good songs. Got a favorite of your own? Leave it in the comments and we’ll post it at the end of the series.

Folk musicians are very different from pop stars. They earn their living one gig at a time, and are always on tour somewhere, because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t make any money. They write their own music, and they often draw from their vast experiences on the road, which is why folk music makes great travel tunes.

Eddie From Ohio‘s 2001 release, Quick, is among the best of the best. Just so we’re clear, Eddie isn’t a solo artist — but it is the name of the drummer in this band, not from Ohio but from the commonwealth of Virginia. Got it? EFO has been touring America since 1991, and Quick includes a great collection of travel-inspired tracks.

The tone of this album makes it perfect for the first CD of your road trip. The high energy title track will get you grooving behind the wheel before you’re out of your driveway, and put you in the right frame of mind for an adventure.

A fan favorite from this album is “Candido & America,” the story of a Mexican couple coming to the US to make a new life. It’s a hopeful song about starting over in a new place, and finding beauty where you are. This is one of those songs that entire audiences sing along to at Eddie From Ohio’s live shows.

Another highlight from Quick is “Number Six Driver.” Guitarist Robbie Schaefer wrote this song about the band’s trip back home to Virginia from a west coast tour. They’d been gone for a long time and wanted to power their way home, and Robbie got stuck with the night shift behind the wheel of the band’s RV. Somewhere in Wyoming before the light of dawn, he passed a gas station that offered “Free coffee for the #6 driver.” That is, the sixth driver to stop in during the night. I believe the story goes that travel weary Robbie was lucky driver number six, and from one of his most boring nights, a beautiful song was born, with a little help from a free cup of coffee. Listen to EFO perform the song at the 2003 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (I was in that audience!) in the video above.

There are lots of great travel tunes on EFO’s other CD’s as well. I love “30 Second Love Affair,” about the fantasy one driver creates about another driver while stopped next to her at a traffic light, “Fifth of July,” another track about new adventures and starting fresh, and “From Dacca,” a sweet song about culture shock and adjusting. Then there’s every Edhead’s favorite, “Old Dominion,” bassist Michael Clem’s tribute to the band’s home state. It’ll make you wish you lived here, too.

Click here for previous Sounds of Travel.