November | December 2006
Volume 80 Issue 6
Travel Tips & Trends
Top travel trends for 2007
With the end of 2006 rapidly approaching, it's time to see what's on the travel horizon for the coming year. Which destinations are hot? What travel categories are growing? What should you know now in order to enjoy the best possible vacation experience in 2007?
River and Small-Ship Cruising — Cruising the scenic Rhine, Main and Danube rivers is a relaxing way to visit a host of countries in central Europe, with the added convenience of unpacking your bags just once. Small-ship cruising is also growing in popularity as many travelers decide to cruise on intimate, club-like smaller vessels.
Exotic Destinations — One of the most exciting developments in travel has been the increased popularity of exotic destinations. Today, more and more travelers are venturing farther and visiting India and Egypt, experiencing Asia and Antarctica, or exploring the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu.
Experiential Travel — Many people today are emphasizing "experiential travel" as they plan their vacations. Experiential travel provides an in-depth exposure to a destination, helping the traveler gain a rich appreciation of its history, customs, culture and cuisine.
Maximizing Value — With unfavorable exchange rates and higher airfares sparked by high fuel costs, travelers are being much more
cautious about how they spend their money, whether they're sneaking away for a weekend at the beach or planning a grand safari in Africa.
Denver light display
began as father's gift
Every year, the parade of cars past Denver's City & County Building serves as a testament to its extraordinary display of holiday lights. But most viewers don't know the story behind this elaborate exhibition.
It started in 1914 with a young boy, David Sturgeon, who was too ill to leave his bed on Christmas Eve. David's father, electrician D. D. Sturgeon, wanted to brighten his son's Christmas. So he dipped clear light bulbs into red and green paint and strung them together on an evergreen tree outside David's window. The boy delighted in the sight, and as the word spread, people came in horse-drawn carriages to see the lighted tree. The Denver Post wrote a story on what some believe was the first outdoor Christmas electric lighting display anywhere.
Years later, when Denver decided to do an outdoor display at the City & County Building, D. D. Sturgeon was hired as a consultant. Today the building boasts one of the largest Christmas lighting displays in the world. It's complemented by carols chiming from the building's bell tower.
This year, the light display kicks off Nov. 24 and continues well
Winter may be the best time to visit Italy
When it comes to seeing Italy at its atmospheric best, there is no better time to visit than winter. All the summer crowds have disappeared, making the cities blissfully peaceful and giving you more time to soak up the true culture of the places you visit.
In winter, Italy has a totally different mood that seems to suit its magnificent architecture, embracing it with different-colored hues. You can sit and enjoy a rich Italian coffee in a cozy café while you watch children happily play in their overcoats and mittens as they chatter away in Italian. Perhaps best of all, prices are substantially lower than during the peak summer season. And, you'll spend less time waiting in queues and more time discovering the works of brilliant artists such as Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo in Italy's unique museums and art galleries.
In Venice, you can feed the pigeons in St. Mark's Square, gaze at the magical Bridge of Sighs, and get lost in its twisting streets full of hidden treasures. And, of course, there's the romantic gondola ride — a must-do for any visitor.
In Rome, marvel at the ceilings in the Sistine Chapel and visit the incredible Coliseum and Roman Forum.
Explore Renaissance Florence and shop for leather in its many specialty stores.
In Pisa, see the Leaning Tower and, in Verona, visit the famous balcony from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
For more information, contact your AAA Travel professional, or click on www.aaa.com or www.italiantourism.com.
Flying with medical oxygen
If you or a family member uses medical oxygen, vacation planning requires a little more attention. But many oxygen patients find air travel is within their reach.
Before planning your travel, check with your doctor. Next, talk to the airline you intend to use, because rules and procedures
Your own oxygen cylinder will not be permitted on board the aircraft. With advance notice, most airlines can supply oxygen to be used in flight. A charge applies, usually between $50-$150 per leg of the flight. Book direct flights to keep costs low and avoid the need for oxygen delivery during stopovers — airline oxygen is only available while you are on the plane.
While in the airport itself, you must use your own oxygen. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows you to bring personal medical oxygen and respiratory devices through security checkpoints to the boarding gate, after proper screening. If you are able to disconnect it for a short time, your equipment will be x-rayed; if not, you may request a visual inspection.
You are permitted to have a non-traveling assistant accompany you to the gate to take away your personal oxygen equipment once you board the plane, or to bring it to the gate at your arrival point. This person will need a gate pass; again, ask about the procedure when booking your ticket. If you have nobody to assist you, your medical oxygen supplier may be able to provide airport delivery service — especially helpful if you can't avoid a stopover.
There is often a limit on how many oxygen patients per flight the airline can accommodate, so book early. On some airlines, the location of the oxygen equipment means you must sit in a specific seat.
Questions to ask when booking: Does the airline's equipment use a mask or cannula? (Masks are most common.) If you prefer a cannula, can you bring your own? What flow rates are available? Can your own empty cylinder be checked as baggage — and will there be an additional charge? What is the procedure at the airport before and after the flight?
Make sure you or your travel companions are comfortable with disconnecting, reconnecting and operating your equipment. TSA staff will not do this, and air crews may have only basic knowledge. Bring your doctor's prescription. Some airlines also require additional paperwork before you travel — another reason to book early.
Galapagos Islands show off unique wildlife
Life on the Galapagos Islands
developed in isolation to produce fascinating species found nowhere else on Earth. From the famed giant tortoises, to the finches that provided Charles Darwin with the early insights that led to his theory of evolution, today the islands still afford visitors the chance to observe a unique natural world where many of the birds and animals are unafraid of human presence.
The marine iguanas are a favorite with tourists-these are the only lizards in the world that live in the ocean. Albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, seals and penguins are just a few of the other wild attractions. The islands are a national park and a World Heritage Site; their surrounding waters are the world's second largest marine reserve.
The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and include dozens of islands, from large inhabited ones to small rocky islets. The largest town is Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, with about 10,000 residents. The local language is Spanish and U.S. dollars are the official currency.
Several cruise and tour companies work with the Ecuadorean national park service to provide up-close experiences with the smallest possible environmental impact. For more information talk to your AAA Travel professional.
'Share the Experience' photo contest
Capture your holiday adventures in the National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands on film and your photo could grace the cover of the 2008 Federal Recreation Lands Pass.
Americans are very fortunate to have more than 500 million acres of Federal Recreation Lands to visit —totaling more than one-fifth of the land in the United States. The lands managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service not only protect and preserve our nation's heritage, they're fun and interesting to explore.
This holiday season, visit America's parks, forests, canyons, monuments and historic sites and "Share the Experience!" Bring your camera, snap some shots of America's best natural, scenic, historic and special holiday wonders, and enter them in the "Share the Experience" photo contest at www.sharetheexperience.org.
Amateur photographers can enter up to three photos taken at any of America's Federal Recreation Lands. The contest offers two judging opportunities. The first is for the front of the 2008 Federal Recreation Lands Pass and will be judged on creativity, visual appeal and ability to show the diversity and richness of America's Federal Lands. The second category, "Family Fun," will award photos that show families enjoying the federal recreation sites, have visual appeal and include an unexpected perspective. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges from the National Park Foundation, Casio, and the benefiting agencies.
Prizes include a Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, vacations to federal recreation areas, Casio Exilim
Zoom cameras and Federal Recreation Land Passes. The contest ends Dec. 31, 2006.
In addition to the contest, a photo gallery has been created so you can "Share the Experience" with others. Visit www.sharetheexperience.org to upload your favorite photos from the Federal Recreation Lands and share them with friends, family and the rest of America.
What if I break a law.overseas?
Each year, 2,500 Americans are arrested overseas. Surprisingly, many of them assumed they could not be arrested in a foreign country, that U.S. laws and constitutional rights still covered them outside of the country, or that the government would intervene on their behalf.
None of these assumptions are true. While visiting a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and legal process-not to U.S law. Those breaking the law may be charged, convicted and punished according to the laws of the country in which the crime occurs.
It is your responsibility to obey local laws when traveling. Just as at home, saying "I didn't know it was illegal" will not keep you out of court — or out of jail.
If you are arrested overseas, it is important to know what your government can and cannot do for you.
The U.S. Consular Officer can:
Visit you in jail after being notified of your arrest.
Give you a list of local attorneys. The U.S. Government cannot assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of these individuals, or recommend a particular attorney.
Notify your family or friends, and relay your requests for money or other assistance.
Intercede with local authorities to make sure that your rights under local law (not U.S. law) are fully observed.
The U.S. Consular Officer cannot:
Demand your immediate release, or get you out of jail or the country.
Represent you at trial or give legal counsel.
Pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. Government funds.
Many countries, including the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and the Philippines, enforce very stringent drug laws for possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs, with consequences ranging from mandatory jail sentences to the death penalty. When traveling with legal prescription drugs, always carry your doctor's prescription.
Each month, thousands of AAA members visit the AAA Colorado website, www.aaa.com, to route and map travel, and to search for hotel rooms, car rentals and flights. Here are the top five destinations researched in September:
2. Colorado Springs
3. Glenwood Springs
4. Grand Junction
1. Las Vegas
5. Los Angeles
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