Amazing Race contestants: What does it take exactly?

What does it take to get picked as an Amazing Race contestant team? In this Columbus Dispatch article, there’s some insight. Victoria Hunt, the female part of the Columbus-based married couple team–Brad and Victoria, who are competing in Amazing Race 14, tried out for Survivor several times.

She never made it onto Survivor, but when she showed the powers that be a photo of her husband, Victoria was bumped over to the Amazing Race with Brad in tow. It helps that both of them are attractive and fit. Like Victoria, hubby Brad is an exercise hound. Along with rock and ice climbing, he kayaks, mountaineers at high altitudes and power-lifts. Not only does he participate in marathons, he is in ultra-marathons. Frankly, it sounds as if he could answer the casting call for a good looking, silver-haired Batman.

As for Victoria, she is an avid skier, but I hope she has more experience than Ohio’s offerings. Snow Trails and Mad River Mountain are fun–but even I ski those, and I’m no skier.

According to Victoria, the show is looking for folks who “have an opinion” since this makes for interesting TV. Based on the article, I assume Brad and Victoria made it at least through a couple legs of the race. I wonder if they made it to Romania and Siberia, two new destinations this season? The filming started right after Halloween, spanning 40,000 miles and seven other countries.

For a rundown of the other Amazing Race 14 contestants, click here.

Adventure travel in southern Florida

If you’re looking for the sort of travel that gets your heart pumping a bit and you feel as if you’re whole body is engaged in your vacation experience, look to Florida. That’s the idea behind the on-line and print publication South Florida Adventures.

Whether you like to take to the water or are a dry land type person–or want to combine both, the round-up of the publication’s10 top stories of the year is an excellent place to start searching out ideas for adventurous travel. Here are eight of the stories that are specifically travel related. The other two are profile pieces.

Each of these sound quite worthy of combining into an adventure travel week where you could easily combine them into one vacation. I’d say you’d end up with a unique perspective of this part of Florida as a result.

[from Travel Briefs in Columbus Dispatch]

Which U.S. cities charge travelers the most taxes

Perhaps you’ve been one of those folks to receive your hotel bill and you clutch your chest in dismay. “My word! How can this be?” you exclaim.

You didn’t touch your mini-bar. You didn’t use the phone. You didn’t slip so much as a washcloth into your luggage. Still, your bill is well over what you expected. What you thought was a bargain vacation has turned into more than you counted on. How come? Taxes, my friend.

The National Business Travel Association recently released information from its study that ranks cities according to the ones that charge the most in taxes and those that charge the least. Taxes on hotels, restaurant meals and gasoline are a handy way for cities to generate revenue. How much revenue depends upon the city. Some cities are a bargain where taxes are concerned. It doesn’t mean they are cheap cities. Their expensive factor is not due to taxes.

Would you guess that Honolulu is the least expensive city tax wise? Three of the other four cheapest tax cities are in Florida. Maybe there is enough revenue generated by tourism in each of them.

The most expensive city for taxes is Chicago.

Here are the top five cities in each category. To read the report on the other 50 cities, click here. A warning, though. Reading the report can make your head swim.


  1. Honolulu
  2. Portland, Oregon
  3. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  4. Fort Myers, Florida
  5. West Palm Beach, Florida


  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. Nashville, Tennessee
  3. Charlotte, North Carolina
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Houston, Texas

Thanks to Steve Stephen’s recent article in the Columbus Dispatch for this heads up on travel costs that can sneak up on you when you’re trying to budget.

Gas give-a-ways that ease summer travel–a bit

Perhaps you’ve noticed the gas-give-away promotions popping up at various locations in the U.S. this summer. As a boost to help folks pile into that family car for a vacation, several hotels are offering gas card rebates.

Steve Stephens, head of the travel section of the Columbus Dispatch, outlines several gas card deals in his column Ticket to Write. As he points out, one reason for the gas rebates is a psychological one to appeal to travelers looking to make ends meet when working out a monthly budget.

When you figure in the increase on gas prices to summer destinations, it may not be all that much, particularly if you’re not going all that far. Knowing that it may cost you $20 more than it has in the past may keep you from getting behind the wheel. That rebate gets you to change your mind.

Here are deals that Stephens lists and suggestions for finding others.

  • Park Inn hotels are offering a $20 rebate if you stay for two nights in a row. Check out
  • is offering a rebate deal also if you book your hotel through the Web site. A two-night stay gets you $25 and a three-night or more stay gets you $50.
  • At you can find a gas rebate as a prepaid MasterCard, as well, if you book for three or more nights.

Other deals can be found at and

There are several deals in Ohio and the region including West Virginia. Check out Stephens’ article to see what they are.

Hotel water glass problems–still

With the way media news travels, one would think that hotel water glasses are no longer being squirted with glass cleaner and are being properly washed. The Atlanta news story about the questionable methods of cleaning hotel room glasses aired in November. It’s been two months since Martha’s post on these germ vectors.

If an article in yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch is reflective on the current hotel glasses scene, Martha’s advice to bring your own glasses might be well heeded–or, be prepared to wash glasses yourself, just in case. Don’t let that clean paper lid fool you. A team of reporters in Columbus recently pulled an undercover investigation similar to what was done in Atlanta area hotels and found similar results. The experiment of using glasses and then filming what happens after wards showed that although some of the high end hotels were in compliance with the standard others were not. At some of the high end hotels, infractions ranged from glass cleaner being used, glasses being wiped with a dirty towel and soap not being used to clean the glasses, only water.

When we stayed at a hotel in January, I was wary about the glasses and cleaned them myself. Martha’s post had a direct influence. Thanks, Martha. When I looked at the maid’s cleaning cart, I didn’t notice clean glasses ready to be put in rooms. What I think would be a great invention is a portable glass cleaner that could be attached to the bathroom sink. A maid could bring into a room, plug it in, pop in the two or four glasses that need to be cleaned, do the rest of the room while the glasses are going through the cycle and by the time she (or he) is done, the glasses would be sanitized and sparkling. If we’re heading towards space tourism, isn’t there a way we can get the glasses clean here on earth? By the way, coffee cups are also an issue.