8 Strategies For Avoiding The Spring Break Crowds

For the college crowd, spring break typically means one thing: raging parties. For everyone else, however, spring break brings on more of a raging headache.

Those traveling at the same time as the party crowd are faced with a number of dramas, ranging from laying wide awake at night listening to thumping music piercing the paper-thin walls of their hotel room, to having to explain to their seven-year-old why those scantily-clad college kids are puking on the sidewalk. Put up with it long enough and spring break has the ability to break down even the most tolerant traveler.

Is there any hope of avoiding the chaos? Thankfully, the answer is yes – I’ve certainly done it and lived to tell the tale. So, whether you forgot to check the school calendar when making your travel plans or you simply want to take a relaxing family vacation while the little ones are off from school, the good news is there are lots of steps you can take to avoid running into the spring breakers.1. Head to a city. If you still have some flexibility in your travel plans, then pick a destination that’ll allow you to avoid the partygoers. The majority of spring breakers are fleeing the metropolises and heading to sunny, sandy spots, which means now is a great time to visit a city.

2. Steer clear of party beaches. If you’re headed to a seaside destination, beware that certain beaches will be packed with partygoers and plan your stay accordingly. For example, if you go to Miami, you’ll want to avoid South Beach or Miami Beach and pick a quieter spot like Key Biscayne or Mid Beach to base yourself in instead.

3. Choose your hotel wisely. Even if you’re headed to a destination known for attracting spring breakers, you can often avoid the revelry as long as you keep away from party hotels – venues full of college kids there to enjoy the pool parties, live entertainment, and music around the clock. You can figure out which hotels are geared specifically to the party crowd by hunting down the spring break website for that destination. For example, you can see which hotels are set up for the event in Cancun here, and at Daytona Beach here.

4. Arm yourself with noise-canceling devices. No matter how well you research your hotel, you might not be able to prevent a group of noisy merry-makers from setting up camp in the room above you. So to be on the safe side, bring along some earplugs and even a white noise machine to muffle any sound. If you’re a business traveler or need to get work done while you’re in your hotel, noise-canceling headphones can be a lifesaver. It’s also worth asking the hotel to put you in a quiet corner of the hotel, far from any college kids, when checking in.

5. Wake up early. If you want to sightsee and enjoy the destination in peace, get up before the spring break crowd. Most of the partiers stay up late and sleep in the next morning nursing their hangovers, so by getting up earlier you can beat the crowds. Morning is also a good time to enjoy the popular party beaches before the crowds, kegs and DJs invade later in the day.

6. Do activities spring breakers tend to avoid. While many attractions will appeal to spring breakers and ordinary travelers alike, there are still plenty of things you can do where you won’t find a partier for miles. Examples include enjoying a round of golf, a quiet afternoon of fishing, or a private boat ride.

7. Head to the quieter watering holes. The party crowd will be busy hitting up nightclubs and bars offering kegs of beer and mixed drinks by the yard glass, so if you’re looking to sip a quiet drink or two, steer clear of these venues. A much better option is to head to wine bars, intimate cocktail lounges, vineyards and bars attached to restaurants. If you really want to go to one of the popular clubs or bars in town, check their event schedule and those of nearby venues. Depending on where the spring break action is on a given night, some venues can be pulsating and others can become ghost towns – which might be exactly what you’re looking for.

8. Research where the locals hang out. Particularly when it comes to the international destinations, many cities have a main tourist drag that’s lined with resorts and entertainment geared towards travelers (and in the case of spring break, the partiers) and a separate part of the city where the locals tend to congregate. I once visited Cancun, Mexico, during spring break (but not actually for spring break) and was able to avoid the party crowd by spending time at the beaches frequented by the locals and the downtown plazas few tourists ventured into. As an added bonus, these areas had a more authentic vibe, and the food, drinks and accommodation were significantly cheaper.

Have you traveled during spring break? Were you able to escape the party crowds?

[Photo credit: Flickr user BluEyedA73; martinvarsavsky; Fevi Yu; alexbrn]

Airline Travel Tips To Count On

Airline travel tips come from a variety of sources, all with good intentions. Crowd-sourced recommendations have their place, but often amount to more of a popularity contest than information to bank on. Professional travel writers make it all sound easy but shouldn’t they? It is their job to do so. Going directly to the source, airlines offer their own version of travel tips, based on moving millions of people every day.

Alaska Air suggests some everyday travel tips that include keeping our confirmation codes handy for when a reservation needs to be checked, changed or modified. Armed with that gateway code, we can check flight times, know when to arrive at the airport and gate and choose from a variety of check-in options.

On holiday travel, Alaska Air suggests wrapping gifts at our destination since they are subject to TSA inspection and allow plenty of time to get through congested parking lots and airports during holiday travel periods.American Airlines suggests taking it easy between flights in their Admirals Club with a One-Day Pass, available online or at self-service check-in machines to relax in comfort and elegance. The one-day pass can be used at multiple lounges throughout a day of travel.

Buying a ticket and not exactly sure on the flight times? American Airlines reminds us of the relatively new 24-hour hold option we can put on an airline ticket while we firm up travel plans or shop around.

Offering some tips for healthy travel, United Airlines suggests wearing comfortable shoes, getting a good night’s sleep before flying and drinking plenty of liquids, but not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

“While away, get as many hours of sleep every day as you normally would at home,” says United Airlines on its website. “Taking short naps of 30 to 40 minutes will refresh you as you adjust to the new time zone.”

Light meals and simple stretching exercises can help too, says United with detailed tips to help avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, mainly in the legs.

Airports also have travel tips for us, like this one from San Francisco International Airport:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user catorze14]

Drag Queen Travel Tips [VIDEO]

Who doesn’t need a few good travel tips? Going off on an adventure without some is almost impossible these days for any sort of travel. Where to go? What to see? Where to eat? What to wear are all valid questions we need answered. Adventure travelers, cruise line fans, business travelers and more all have their specific needs. So do drag queens.

Check this video for Drag Queen Travel Tips to get up to speed:

In the article “Drag Stars At Sea Cruise Will Go On, As Planned, For Most,” Gadling reported on a drag queen-themed cruise, which almost wasn’t for a number of drag fans that had signed up. Call it a missed communication opportunity or just an oversight, those who had signed up for the Drag Stars At Sea: Caribbean Adventure – Revenge of the Wench cruise were disappointed if not mad about a ruling by Carnival Cruise Line to prohibit drag dress for group members, allowing only the professional performers to participate. Quick thinking by Carnival Cruise Lines allowed it in the end and the sailing is currently underway.

[Photo credit- Flickr user voxtheory]

10 Ways To Keep The Seat Next To You Empty

I’m not an anti-social traveler. In fact, I love to meet new people when I’m traveling. But when I find myself sitting on an airplane with the seat next to me open, I tend to get a little nervous wondering who is going to come and occupy the middle seat next to me.

On most airlines, I feel OK about looking to see who is coming down the aisle, because if they’re assigned to the seat next to me, they’re going to sit there, whether they like the looks of me or not. But when I fly Southwest, and other airlines that have open seating, I find myself strategizing on how best to preserve my extra space.

On a short flight, the stakes are low, but on a long flight, the difference between having an open seat next to you and having a size XXL traveler plop down beside you can be huge. And in fairness, it isn’t just large people you don’t want next to you. The overly chatty, the obnoxious, and the malodorous can be even worse. On Thursday, I traveled on Southwest from Chicago to Los Angeles, a 4.5-hour flight (if it’s on time), and, with most of the passengers already on board, I still had an open middle seat next to my aisle.

I know it’s horrible and selfish, but as the few remaining stragglers made their way down the aisle, a small voice inside me was pleading, please, please, please don’t sit next to me. My brain quickly ran through the different strategies that one might employ in order to preserve the extra space.

Spread Your Stuff Out

It rarely works, but who hasn’t put their reading material or other stuff on the seat next to them to make it seem as though the seat might be occupied? Admit it, you’ve done this before.

Make The Center Seat Seem Even Smaller Than It is

Put the armrest up, spread your legs out and make that center seat look as small and unappealing as possible.

Look Busy

It’s a longshot, but if you’re working on a laptop positioned on the tray table, some passersby might be so polite that they’ll chose another middle seat rather than make you get up and reposition with a computer in tow. (Or you can talk on the phone, but I’ve never stooped to that level because it’s an annoyance to everyone in the vicinity.)

Look Crazy

There are plenty of different ways to do this – you can stare, you can let your eyes roll around towards the back of your head, let your tongue hang out of your mouth, drool a bit perhaps. Just watch “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest” if you need some suggestions. If you really want to take this one the extra mile, wear a T-shirt with an aggressively anti-social slogan on it. Something like, “I worship Satan” might do the trick.

Give Off God Vibes

Have a bible out and before the person even asks if the seat next to you is free, ask them if they’ve accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ as Their Savior.

Give Off Skunky Vibes

You probably don’t want to avoid showering for days before your flight but you can carry a bag with some smelly cheese, durian or some other food that smells awful.

Carry Depends or Have a Barf Bag Cocked and Ready to Go

Would you sit next to someone that had a box of Depends undergarments on their lap? What about someone who was hyperventilating and clutching a barf bag?

Gangsta-rap or Richard Marx at Full Blast

I guarantee you that if you are blasting Richard Marx’s “I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You” or NWA’s “F**ck the Police” into a pair of oversized headphones, people will think twice about sidling up next to you. 2 Live Cru’s “Me So Horny” Or the Devinyl’s “I Touch Myself” could work for most men, but might serve the opposite purpose if women try it.

Court A Skinny Passerby

If it’s a relatively full flight and I’m resigned to the fact that someone is going to sit next to me, I might make the effort to smile at people that I think would make good seat mates. Sometimes, if they’re looking at the seat next to me, I’ll go one step further and invite them to sit down. Alternately, when I see someone who I really do not want to sit next to me coming down the aisle, my heart starts beating faster and I begin to employ any and all of the tactics mentioned above.

Sometimes I’ve already spotted people I don’t want to sit next to before I’ve even boarded the flight, such as the individual in the photo at the top of this post, who I encountered on Thursday. It wasn’t just the fact that he was quite large but also the fact that he looked like he might break my neck or cast some kind of satanic curse on me if I happened to brush his elbow by accident. When I saw him sit in a middle seat next to someone a few rows in front of me, I was ready to pop open a bottle of Champagne. I’m sure he’s a great guy but I just didn’t want to sit next to him (sue me).

Don’t Make Eye Contact

This was the tactic I tried on my recent Southwest flight. My head was buried in a newspaper, even though I was too nervous about who was going to sit next to me to do anything more than run my eyes across the words without really digesting what was on the page.

On this occasion, the tactic didn’t work. I heard a voice ask if the seat next to me was occupied and I looked up to see, who else but an attractive and petite woman of perhaps 25. An ideal seat mate if there ever was one. The truth is that I enjoyed chatting with her and the woman in the window seat and the trip was, in fact, a good reminder that trying to repel people isn’t always the best idea.

[Photo credits: Dave Seminara and Skley on Flickr]

Safety And Security When Traveling Takes More Than Common Sense Precautions

Safety and security tips for travelers often include common sense advice like not carrying a lot of cash, protecting valuable documents and not wearing expensive jewelry in public. But while taking precautions is good, knowing what scams or traps are set and waiting for travelers in countries around the world is better.

“While the language barrier and the cultural sites are exciting, they also open up travelers to scam artists and petty thieves,” says an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which brings up some good points.

Record serial numbers on electronics, keep valuables in your hotel safe and watch for “long hauling” where taxi drivers take a longer route to bump up the fare. These measures can be taken to ensure a visit to an unfamiliar turf goes well.

record the serial numbers of any vital electronics that could be stolen, as some cities require a serial number to file a police report.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/travel/top-5-worst-travel-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them-663534/#ixzz2DDqhoOGp

record the serial numbers of any vital electronics that could be stolen, as some cities require a serial number to file a police report.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/travel/top-5-worst-travel-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them-663534/#ixzz2DDqhoOGp

We saw this first hand in Rouen, France, not long ago, visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral off a sailing of Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Journey. Our local guide was quick to point out that we should ignore anyone standing by the front door collection admission. Entry is free but unsuspecting tourists commonly pay scam artists a fee, believing they cannot enter without doing so.But Americans do not need to travel far to find situations that threaten safety and security.

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management offers tips for international travel as close as the Bahamas, a destination frequented by U.S. travelers on a weekend getaway. Also a popular cruise port, on the topic of safety and security, the Department of State warns travelers about commonly used services.

“The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated,” says the Department of State. “Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.”

Digging deeper, the Department of State offers information about common crime scams and reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships.

“Three separate groups of tourists were held at gunpoint and robbed at popular tourist sites in and near Nassau; each of these incidents occurred during daylight hours and involved groups of more than eight persons,” says the Department of State, adding “several other groups of tourists allegedly were victims of armed robbery at more remote locations.”

Here at home, traveling no farther than the local mall for holiday shopping can put us in situations where pick pockets, scam artists and others are out to take advantage of distracted shoppers.

Regardless of where we are, a nice day of sightseeing or shopping can turn very bad, very fast as we see in this video:

[Photo credit: Chris Owen]