Travel blog postings

Travel Postings - Page 2

Earliest: September 24, 2003Latest: April 4, 2021Total: 53
August 12, 2018

AAA Trip Tik Booklets

One of the services that AAA offers is a TripTik, a booklet that helps you plan your long drive to your vacation destination. AAA has been providing travel assistance for more than a century - so they know the best route to get to your destination.

Trip Tik Booklets

2002 - Old Travel TripTik

In 2002, I traveled from San Jose, California to Boston, Massachusetts. (Read my trip notes.) I used AAA TripTik to help navigate the southern route so that I could stop in the right cities and not miss any roadside attractions.

I remember sitting with an agent and walked through the trip. A few days later, I got a nice spiral bound copy of my trip with additional maps of my location, should I want to know more about the city.

2018 - Visit to Pennsylvania

This year we are traveling to Pennsylvania for a fun trip to Hershey Park. I thought it would be worth getting a new TripTik and seeing what has changed in 16 years - after all in the world of Waze and Google Maps, do you still need TripTik?

Short answer - it appears that Waze and Google Maps don't have to worry about AAA as a competitor. AAA TripTik falls short of expectations

Six Things I have learned

  • The 2018 version of TripTik is a bunch of pages of Google Maps with additional information on road constructions and Driving regulations.
  • When I made my TripTik this year, I wasn't asked any specific details about my trip. For example, we planned to bypass the George Washington Bridge and the Tappen Zee Bridge - basically, we didn't want to go anyplace near New York City.
  • I wasn't asked about when I wanted to take breaks. In 2002, AAA told me that they recommend stopping every 400 miles. In 2018, I wasn't advised on any places to take breaks.
  • In 2002, I was talking with a travel agent. In 2018, I was talking with a person at the front desk taking my order. Both the 2002 and the 2018 books are comb bound.
  • The 2002 book had interesting facts for example: "Boston (pop 574,300). Many scenes from the beginning of the Revolution were played in Boston. While preserving its historic landmarks, the city has maintained its position as governmental cultural educational and commercial capital of the state."
  • When I got my book in 2002, they walked through the book with me. They highlighted the trip and showed how to use it. In 2018, I picked up the book and was asked if I had any questions - I simply said that I'll look through the book and come back with any questions.

Should You Get a TripTik?

Since the books are part of the AAA membership, it doesn't hurt to get one made for a long trip. In the rare case that the car GPS goes out, at least you'll have a map available.

I think most people will just rely on services like Waze to give them the most up to date best route to their destination. Waze is adding additional information such as locations to popular restaurants nearby and local attractions.

April 22, 2018

Wall Huggers at the Airport

On a recent trip, I was surprised on the number of people that were looking and needing a spot to charge up their smartphones. This was true at airports and at several Starbucks stores.

There's no reason for this. The solution is simple and very practical.

Wall Huggers

While waiting for their flights, people would seek locations to power up their device before getting on board. They pull out their USB cables just hoping for a free spot at the power charging area.

Samsung even made fun of them in 2014.

Simple Solution

The simple solution is to use a USB power charger, otherwise known as portable power banks. They provide a bit of extra juice whenever you need it.

The good thing is that you don't need to find a wall changing the station. Simply plug in your phone and go. Amazing how much flexibility it can bring. You can charge your device while walking on the plane.

What Size/Brand

On a recent trip, I found that the Jackery USB 6000 mAh/22.2Wh was plenty of power. I was able to charge up my iPhone 6s Plus several times and still had plenty of available charges available.

The iPhone 6S Plus has a 2750 mAh battery. This means that the 6000 mAh will fully charge a "dead" iPhone at least 2 times. I use the Jackery Bar Premium USB Power Charger. It's nice because you can see exactly how much charge is available and it's a good fit in the packet.

Bonus: If you have a SwissGear 1900 ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack, the Jackery Bar Premium USB Power Charger will fit in the Cellular pocket. Which makes it handy to have whenever you need it.


I would recommend not getting the updated model with built-in Apple Lightning Cables, because of the short cable length. Using a 12-inch cable, you can keep the charger in the back pocket while charging the phone in the front pocket. I find the 12-inch length to be good for in the in-flight seat pocket.

December 17, 2017

How Well Do You Know Road Signs?

Think back to the last time you really thought about road signs. It was probably when you took your permit or drivers license test, right? Aside from stop, yield, merging, school crossing, no U-turns, and a few other signs, you might not completely understand the meaning behind every road sign you pass on your daily commute.

Don't Know All The Signs? You're Not Alone

When you take a written test at the DMV, you must score 80 percent or higher to pass the test. If you go the Internet and take an online test, which tests your knowledge of road signs, most sites also consider 80 percent or better to be passing.

Funny Road Signs

One source reported that most online test takers believed it to be "ok" and safe to drive the maximum posted speed limit during inclement weather. The same source also reported that more than half of test takers were unable to properly identify an advanced warning sign for a school. 35 percent were unable to identify a "lane ends" sign.

As a driver who knows some of the road signs (but maybe not all), you may wonder how important it is to be completely knowledgeable.

Are There Consequences To Not Knowing Road Signs?

You know how to use a stop sign and can follow directions on the highway. Is it really a big deal if you don't all of the road signs? Not knowing all the road signs is potentially dangerous and can put you at greater risk of being involved in an accident.

Think about sharing the road with a motorist that doesn't know what stop sign means. While the stop sign is one of the most basic and commonly known signs, we can't assume that every motorist knows what it symbolizes or even follows it.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), each year, nearly one-third (or about 700,000) of all intersection crashes in the U.S. are at intersections which have stop signs. Given the high rate of incidents, it's safe to assume that some drivers don't see, understand, or adhere to stop signs.

How Well Do You Know Your Signs?

Depending on where you live, you may be more likely to see some road signs than others. For example, if you live in a rural area you may be familiar with the sign that depicts a farmer on a tractor. Someone who lives in an urban area may not understand the meaning behind the sign.

Even if you feel like you know most (if not all) of the road signs in your area, it doesn't hurt to brush up on a few more, especially if you're planning a road trip or travel for work.

Want to test how well you pay attention to signs? "Cards of Distractibility" is a free online game that simulates distracted driving while road signs change on the screen. At the end of the game, you are asked to properly identify all the signs you saw while driving. Want to see how many signs you actually know? There are plenty of practice tests online, give one of them a try.

December 16, 2017

Tools To Utilize When You Drive a Rental Car

Car Rental Advice

Traveling for the holidays often means renting a car when yours in the shop or once you get off an airplane. Ideally, we'd all rent a car that we're familiar with, such as our own, but that's not always the case.

Depending on when and where you rent a car, your choices may be slim but if you have a choice, here are some things to request and use in a rental car, especially when you're traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Reconsider Using GPS

GPS can be extremely helpful, particularly when you're driving on highways and interstates that you've never traveled, but they can also be complicated to use, force you to take your eyes off the road, and even give you inaccurate results.

Instead, consider taking advantage of navigational apps that deliver results in real-time. Heading to Florida for the holidays? Florida NavMap is a "must have" navigational tool for residents and tourists, alike. Not only does it give you access to the traffic conditions in real-time but the free online tool also lets you see where there are road construction and other areas that may delay your travel.

Use Hands-Free Options

Although most states ban texting and driving, and more are starting to ban the use of all handheld devices while driving, your state's laws may be different from those where you're renting a car. Not only should you find out the distracted driving laws for the state you are driving in but also use a hands-free option whenever possible (and regardless of the law).

Ideally, you should avoid making a phone call or using your device at all but if you need to, a hands-free option is less dangerous and allows you to keep both hands on the wheel.

Request A Vehicle With Safety Features

Most of today's newest cars have top-of-the-line safety features which include blind spot detection, lane departure and forward collision warnings, as well as back up cameras. While many rentals are newer vehicles, the company may opt out of some of the safety features.

When renting a car, take a look at your options and request a car with safety technology, if possible. You may have to pay more for the technology but it's often worth the cost of feeling a little more confident and secure as you drive.

Go For The Wi-Fi

If you have the option of having Wi-Fi in your rental car, you should take advantage of that tech feature. Not only can it help you stay better connected and use apps more easily but you can also save on roaming fees and other charges to your smartphone bill when you travel.

A Tip For Using Technology in a Rental Car

Before you drive the rental car off of the lot make sure you've figured how to use all the features in the car and then focus your attention on the technology. Make sure you've tested everything out and asked questions before you hit the highway so you can focus on the drive and not how to use the technology.

November 12, 2017

InsureMyTrip Warning Resource Page

If your thinking of traveling the world, before you book your travels check out the vast amount of information on You can learn all about which countries the U.S. State Department says to avoid. The information is very useful in understanding the risks of going to certain countries. Information is constantly updated from various sources.

The nice thing is that the site tells you when the warning or alert should be lifted - when the information is available. The information provided is good detail than what is on the U.S. State Department provides. They even include YouTube video clips on some of the alerts.


From the Developer:

Over the past months, we've worked extremely hard to build what we think is a complete page on Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings on the internet.

We built this as a public service for travelers of all types, especially those who need to travel into the more unstable places on the planet. This is useful for people on humanitarian missions, church organizations, archeologists, historians, biologists, medical workers, visiting professors, and adventure travelers.

April 2, 2017

Tips for Healthy Travel

Health Travel2

With summer travel just around the corner, you may have already started planning a trip. While the summer season isn't typically known as an "unhealthy" time of year, nothing's worse than getting sick while on vacation. Whether you're traveling by air or car, here are some tips for staying healthy while you travel:

Get a "Go Ahead" From Your Doctor

If you have a health condition, it's always a good idea to check in with your doctor to make sure it's okay to travel. While travel is safe for many health conditions, you should definitely talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, have had a recent injury, or have been feeling unwell.

Don't Forget Your Medications

Before you hit the road or hop on a plane, make sure you have more than enough of your prescription medications and if possible, bring extra. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there's an easy way to refill your prescription in case of an emergency.

Worried that you can't take medications or OTC drugs on a plane? Most items are allowed. Make sure that all containers are clearly marked and easy to reach if they need to be checked by security.

If you take a medication that requires refrigeration, make sure that you have adequate accommodations while you travel.

Check Out Your Insurance Plan

No one wants to think about getting hurt or sick while traveling, but it could happen. Take a close look at your health insurance plan and see what's covered and what's not. If you're traveling across the globe, you may want to consider travel insurance. Not sure what you should do? Talk to your insurance agent.

Get Updated on Vaccines

Don't remember when you last had a tetanus shot? Heading to a tropical region? It's always a good idea to stay on top of your immunizations, and some countries require travelers to receive a shot before visiting. Plan ahead because some immunizations require multiple shots and must be done well before you travel.

Stay Caught Up on Sleep

A good night's sleep can be difficult when you travel, but it's important to your health and safety. Experts recommend acclimating to a different time change before you travel. For instance, if you are traveling West, start going to bed 1 to 2 hours later than usual. Avoid renting and driving a car when you are fatigued and take brief naps when you're tired.

Don't Forget to Stretch

Whether you are driving across state lines or sitting on a plane for half a day, it's important to take stretching breaks. Failure to move around can put you at a great risk for getting a potentially deadly blood clot. Walk around or flex your legs and feet.

Eat Well and Stay Hydrated

A vacation can throw off healthy routines. While it's also a great opportunity to try new foods and indulge high-calorie dishes, don't forget to eat healthy, too. Dehydration can sneak up on you and cause a lot of health problems so don't stay hydrated throughout the day, whether you're on the beach, in the desert, or bicycling around a foreign city.

March 11, 2017

Traveling Overseas? A Few Considerations You Should Make

E_ B I G B E N

Traveling overseas to other countries and regions of the world can be a thrilling experience. Upon receiving their passports, most American travelers eagerly await their travels over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Depending upon your final destination, the length of stay, and travel plans can determine some of the requirements necessary before you leave your hometown. Making sure you are fully prepared and equipped with necessities to ensure you safely reach your vacation spot is extremely important. Poor planning can lead to a headache and potentially a dangerous situation when travelers reach their overseas destination.

Are you traveling to a foreign country this year? What are some of the most important considerations one must make before they embark on their journey? Below we will outline a few of the most important things to ensure you are checking off your list before traveling.


The American dollar can have a much smaller or larger impact in foreign countries where the exchange rate may be higher or lower. As a result, it's important to carefully consider the cost of common goods like food, and lodging before you even consider getting on the plane. Some areas of the world, such as Dubai may require large amounts of money in order to purchase necessary goods and services. You may be surprised how common items like a toothbrush or deodorant can greatly differ throughout different regions of the world because of exchange rates. Furthermore, some goods may be much more expensive because of the production process required for the product's development. The cost of goods may be much higher, resulting in a more expensive product.

Frugal travelers should consider traveling to places where exchange rates are much lower. One of the most budget-friendly places to travel that allow American travelers the ability to dine, shop, and relax is Thailand. Here, one US dollar is the equivalent to 35 Thai bahts (as of March 10, 2017). With this in mind, a typical hotel night can cost an American traveler anywhere from $12-$30 per night. Talk about getting a lot for your money!

Similarly, in countries like Australia, the American dollar is the equivalent of 1.33 Australian dollars. Though the exchange rate may be very similar in Australia, it's important to consider the costs of common goods. Are they similar to the cost in the United States, or are they more expensive because of their geographic region? This is where the importance of extensive research comes into play before planning your travels.


Traveling across the globe is enough to make first-time travelers nervous. Commuting on a plane for an extensive amount of time can already be enough to scare away those traveling to a foreign country for the first time.

Once travelers reach their final destination, it's important to consider the safety levels in the area. Will you be able to adapt to the cultural differences presented in the region? Making sure you are aware of what is considered respectful, and what is not is extremely important.

Its also important to consider your safety when traveling throughout different countries. When traveling to regions like the UK or Australia, drivers must quickly become adjusted to driving on the opposite side of the road in which they are accustomed to. As a result, this can cause a dangerous situation, especially if it's the first time doing so. When paired with sightseeing, and traveling to different restaurants and places of interest in foreign countries, driving on the opposite side of the road can be a distraction in itself. Paired with any slight consumption of alcohol can create a hazard for yourself and many other motorists on the roadway.

Creating a Pre-Travel Itinerary

Before considering any travel arrangements, consider important factors before embarking upon your next journey. Traveling to a foreign country is not only exhilarating, but it's an experience that lasts a lifetime. However, extensive preparation, research, and planning should be a part of any preliminary travel itineraries. Avoiding any potential dangers, unforeseen conditions, and problems should always be at the top of any travel plans. Make an itinerary far in advance, and plan for any unexpected issues that could arise. But most importantly, have fun and enjoy your trip!

April 24, 2016

Summer Road Trip Hacks

Traveling throughout the United States during the upcoming spring and summer months can be an exhilarating feeling. Getting out on the open road, with some of your best pals can create memories that will last a lifetime. It's the time of the year that most of us look forward to. But, there are a few things you should keep in mind before, and during your commute to your travel destinations.

Plan, plan, and plan more

The number one thing that most vacationers neglect is careful planning. Most think that planning a hotel room, and planning your commute to your destination will be suitable enough for planning a successful vacation. Though these are great planning tips, you should stop to consider the activities you will partake in, while at your destination. Believe it or not, some motorists can spend unnecessary money and time traveling from their hotel to leisurely activities, taking a bite from vacationer's wallet and time spent away from home. It's a good idea to get a rough itinerary in place, and plan which activities you will partake in ahead of time, so you can maximize your time away from home.

Tackling differences

If you live in the mountainous areas, traveling to a beach area can pose different driving variables then you might be accustomed to. Weaving in and out of hills and windy roads might be a commonplace practice for your regular commute, so traveling to flatter terrains, with more open roads might pose a challenge for your driving skills. It's important to study the roads where you will be traveling, and ensure you are prepared for tackling the road ahead.


Additionally, most don't think about how the weather can have a large impact on how you commute to your destination. Just think about those beach commutes that you have taken in the past, where torrential rains have caused you to pull your family car to the side until the rains let up. Coastal, and other various areas that make up vacation destinations generally have different climates than those you might be used to. Prepare ahead of time, and study the weather conditions in the area to ensure you and your family are safe during your commute to your destination.

Save some change

It might seem like an uncommon thing to think about, but if you are traveling over state lines, do some planning ahead of time. For states like North and South Carolina, gas prices can significantly vary when one travels over the state line. Tax rates are different in every state. Be sure to plan out how long your car's gas tank will last, and plan your stops accordingly. You might be surprised how much money can be saved by carefully planning your stops. When traveling a long distance, the value in planning gas stops can really add up. Besides, who doesn't like to save a few dollars on the road?

Whether you are planning your trip across the country, or to a bordering state, planning is of the essence. It can save you much needed time and money during your commute. There are plenty of tips and tricks that can save you, and your friends and family time and money while on your commute to your destination. What are some practices you commonly partake in while commuting during the summer months?

March 27, 2016

National Hotel in Jamestown, California

My car keychain has a bit of California memory attached to it:

National Hotel Keychain

National Hotel

The National hotel is a historical hotel right in the center of downtown Jamestown, California - It located right in the middle of Gold Country. It's about a 2.5-hour drive from San Jose, California.

Don't know if downtown changed much, but I remember some antique shops and some kitchen stores. The hotel has a small restaurant, with some good food and a bar. You can buy the keychain I have at the bar, get one with a room number that you are staying in.

When you visit the hotel, make sure to stay in room 6. (My Keychain has that room number on the back!) That room is supposed to be haunted, although I never encountered any strange encounters during my stays. Check out the room guestbook for my guest entry. I hope that the book is still there.

I have kept the National Hotel keychain as a reminder of my time in California. I do plan to go back someday and show my family all the places around Jamestown.

It seems very appropriate that I would post this on Easter Weekend because that's when I would visit the area in the late 1990s.

Easter Weekend Celebration

Between 1998 to 2001, this was my Easter routine:

I would head up to Gold Country after work on Good Friday. I checked into the hotel and then spend Saturday exploring various sites around Jamestown. ( Moaning Cavern, National Bridge (Near Moaning Cavern), Railtown State Historic Park, Columbia State Park, and downtown Sonora) I would then attend church services at St. Patrick's Church in Sonora.

On Easter Sunday, I would have a nice breakfast at the hotel and the head over to Yosemite to spend the day. While there, I remember stopping at the General Store and get some lunch. Then have picnic on the grass at the base of El Captain.

Lord Have Mercy

Here is the choir from St. Patrick's Church in Sonora, singing the 'Lord have Mercy' song:

December 14, 2015

Wright Brother's Day


On December 17th, the United States celebrates 'Wright Brother's Day.' It's not a huge celebration, you won't see parades or heavy traffic where people are scrambling to visit family.

The date commemorates the Wright brothers' first successful flight in heavier-than-air, mechanically propelled craft, accomplished on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Wright Brothers Day falls on the same day as Pan American Aviation Day.

If you're a huge Wright Brother's fan you should visit Wright Brothers National Memorial near Kitty Hawk. This is a 425-acre (about 1.7km2) area that features a 60-foot (about 18.3 meters) granite pylon (tower) on top of Kill Devil Hill, where the Wright Brothers' camp was located. There's all sorts of celebrations to celebrate the Wright Brother's invention.

If you manage a business, you may want to apply some of the techniques that the Wright Brothers used to bring their invention to light. I would highly recommend reading The Wright Way by Mark Eppler. In the book he teaches you seven problem solving principles from the Wright Brother that can make your business soar.