Become a world famous traveler

Want to be a famous traveler? Gadling fave Christopher Elliott wrote “How to be a Youtube travel star,” which explains how you can turn your vacation videos into internet acclaim, but there are more ways to publicize your excursions. Several websites have popped up to help travel reporters connect with sources. Yes, we need you to help us write the stories you read. By helping us, you can become a celebrity in our community. Generally, all you have to do is register with a service and reply to the queries that resonate with you.

The process, regardless of which service you use, is pretty simple. You receive an e-mail or view a website with a list of stories travel reporters are writing. If one of them fits with your experiences, you reply with a brief e-mail explaining how you can help. The reporter may follow up with a phone call or e-mail (if additional information is necessary). Then, when the story runs, you have something to hang on the fridge.

I’ve worked with three of these services: MediaKitty, TravMedia and Help a Reporter. Each is interesting, and if they don’t have what interests you, you can always try citizen journalism.

MediaKitty is a complete travel media network, bringing sources, experts, publicists and reporters together to make sure that news has a chance of being reported. So, whether you are promoting a client or just have your own stories to tell, you can join this website and become a part of the action. There is a catch, however. Fame isn’t free. Unless you’re a reporter, expect to shell out a modest fee for this service.

TravMedia is mostly for professionals in the travel industry, such as publicists, hotel managers and reporters. So, if you are involved in the travel and hospitality industry and need a new place to push your press releases, for example, this is a great spot. It’s not necessarily a route to individual fame, but if you have a destination or travel company to promote, this is the place to do it.

Help a Reporter is a general service; it’s not limited to travel. But, the travel section usually has a few requests in it (I use it from time to time). The reporter explains what the story is, lists the publication in which it will run and provides any additional instructions. You reply to the reporter by e-mail with your “pitch.” If it fits, fame is only a few mouse-clicks away. I’m biased toward this service because the founder, Peter Shankman, got his start in the AOL newsroom, so he’s part of the extended family.

There’s always the “citizen journalism” option, as well. Go to a website such as or to start your own travel column. This gives you the chance to maintain control of your image (and your fame). Also, CNN’s iReport website gives you the chance to move from text to video, and the mother ship does pick up content from its citizen journalism subsidiary from time to time. Hell, nail the write story, and you may even find us linking to you.

Of course, the easiest way to let us know your travel news is to leave feedback on Gadling. If your story turns us on, you’ll hear from someone!

If you miss a flight because of a long check in line it can cost you money

If you’re one of those people who scoff at the two-hour a head of time check-in schedule recommended by airlines, check out this story that Christopher Elliot posted on his website, A woman showed up on Jan. 5, two hours and twenty minutes before her American Airlines flight from Orlando back to Japan, but the line was so slow that she was denied boarding by the time it was her turn. It cost her $2,600 more to get back to Japan because American Airlines originally said it was her problem, not theirs.

Since this happened, American Airlines, according to Elliot has agreed to send the woman a voucher for $2,600 for air travel. Although this a decent gesture, still she’s out the money.

While reading Elliot’s recounting of the woman’s tale where she describes telling the agent that she was afraid of missing her flight and the agent brushed her off, I’m wondering if getting riled up might have helped. After all, it seems as if the airline was not keeping up with their part of the bargain. About an hour before the flight, I might have really started to get pushy–a bit forceful. By that time, being sweetly polite would have been brushed aside.

I might be wrong, but from the way the situation was described, I’m picturing a mild, nice woman who is trying to be heard in a crowd. Depending on the nature of the staff person you’re dealing with, such a person often gets ignored. The person in the business suit with the no nonsense voice gets further.

There’s a balance between being forceful and going so far that you might have security on top of you, but if the airline doesn’t staff enough people to handle the volume, one has to have a voice loud enough to be reckoned with.

After reading the comments left on Elliot’s post, it seems that this is not an isolated instance. Some have suggested folks should arrive three hours before a flight to be safe, particularly on high volume travel days. I still don’t get why she just wasn’t put on the next available flight without any charges. Too bad there isn’t a time-card punch so you can prove exactly what time you arrived. Maybe that’s the next step.

By the way, because she was flying internationally, she couldn’t check in on her own at a kiosk so that wouldn’t have been a solution.

The traveler’s plea to the next U.S. president

If you’ve followed Gadling for any length of time, you’ve probably caught on that topics range from the serious to the not so serious–from the straight-forward to the downright loopy. Throughout the bounty are our thoughts and interpretations of what it means to be a traveler in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re heading just a few blocks from where you live to the farthest corners from where you were born. The point is movement outwards.

In this past year, there have been oodles of stories of travelers’ woes and concerns, many that have moved our readers to add comments. Problems with TSA, high gas prices that created a nose dive to vacation plans, shifting airline regulations, airline shutdowns, and reduced amenities on certain flights have lengthened the list of issues that might make a traveler say, “I have a bone to pick with somebody.”

Christopher Elliot who gave us tongue-in-cheek, but kind of serious, ideas for items a plane might ditch has been thinking again. In his essay, “Dear Mr. President” in this month’s issue of National Geographic Traveler he outlines the bones to pick issues–the ones that he would like to take up with the next U.S. president. As Elliot sees it travel related concerns can be divided into the following categories and have relevance to the bigger picture concerns of economics and freedom of movement.

Here they are:

  • Gas prices: High gas prices kept many people staying closer to home or not traveling at all. High fuel prices wrecked havoc on airlines.
  • A weak dollar: This made travel to Europe and other popular vacation hot spots incredibly expensive, thus many didn’t go there.
  • Struggling airlines: Airlines struggling to keep afloat have not been a picnic when it comes to flying.
  • Security hassles: Passport regulations, border issues, and TSA lines to name some have enticed people to just stay home.
  • Travel Restrictions: How about loosening those travel restrictions to Cuba for starters?

In conjunction with Elliot’s essay, and with the U.S. election today, Intelligent Travel is asking readers to present their own ideas on what the next president should consider when it comes to those issues that affect travelers. Here’s today’s section, and here’s yesterday’s where you can comment away. Or comment here, and we’ll pass on the message. [photo by d.c. John]

List of things an airline can get rid of

Christopher Elliot of The Travel Critic recently wrote a tongue in cheek and halfway serious post about other ways airlines might save money.

The tenor of the piece, I think, reflects the sad state several airlines have stooped to in their penny pinching ways. Consider the latest Continental Airlines’ venture that Jeffery posted about this past week. Personally, I think reducing the size of carry-on luggage is a crappy idea.

But, I’m one of those people who eyed with interest the cargo pants that Benny Lewis wore in his video on how to pack for a 5-day trip with only a carry-on bag. No, I’m not one of those people who take up more room than my fair share. Plus, I’m not that big, so why not let me have those 6-inches of carry-on space that Continental wants to take away?

But, back to Elliot’s ideas. Here’s what he suggests might be dumped.

  • The bathroom that doesn’t work. As he’s noticed, several planes that he has been on have at least one broken toilet. Get rid of that bathroom. Weight saved.
  • Duty free carts. Who needs to buy that stuff on board a flight anyway? But, as Elliot points out, the carts do make the airlines money.
  • Federal air marshals since they are not particularly cost effective at saving lives –and they fly for free
  • In-flight magazines. (No, no, no Elliot. I NEED in-flight magazines. I read them from cover to cover.)
  • A flight attendant. (Sorry, Heather)
  • A pilot. (Sorry, Ken)
  • XL passengers. Elliot is one of those. He points out that he’s tall and lanky so he poses a bit of a problem when it comes to getting him to fit in the space that he is allotted.

Elliot is not totally serious about this list, but he does have a point about how annoyed a person can feel when, yet again, there’s another change that may or may not make that much of a difference to airline economics. If people are disgruntled and unhappy consumers, that creates a problem, and he sees how flying is on its way to becoming a prison sentence.

For Elliot’s reasons about why a pilot and a flight attendant could be dumped, check out his post.

If you look at René Ehrhardt photo, surely you can find something else to add to Elliot’s list.

Here are some things the airlines probably WISH they’d gotten rid of!

U.S. Airways finds a use for duct tape

For U.S. Airways, there’s good and bad. Thumbs up/Thumbs down. Cheers and jeers. The good? In January, the airline was the one that had the highest on time record of the 10 major airlines. Christopher Elliot passed on this tidbit yesterday in his blog, but chased that with some pitiful shots and details of U.S. Airways use of household items that are helping the airline continue with operations.

It reminds me a little of the vehicles in The Gambia. With mechanical know-how accompanied by a bit of chewing gum, baling wire, spit and luck, taxis ran forever.

Match the item–either duct tape or paper towels– with their use. (Yes, I know this is not much of a game, but still.)

Curtain is to______________as ____________is to airline seat. (See Elliot’s post for the pictures to prove it.)

If you happen to have some duct tape in your carry-on, an item recommended yesterday as a don’t-leave-home-without-it suggestion, perhaps you can help U.S. Airlines keep on keeping on.

The answers:

first blank: paper towels

second blank: duct tape