Clark Howard: Travel e-Scapes Newsletter December 21, 2010


Travel Tips, Tidbits & Trivia

NYC Restaurant Week & Broadway Week
NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism organization, recently announced that reservations for NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2011 will open on January 12. This season’s program features more than 300 participating restaurants, making it the largest NYC Restaurant Week in the program’s history. The culinary celebration runs for two weeks, January 24–February 6, 2011, and offers three-course prix-fixe lunches for $24.07 and three-course prix-fixe dinners for $35. (Saturdays excluded; Sundays optional. Beverages, gratuities and taxes are not included.) Visit on January 12 to view the complete list of restaurants and make reservations. NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2011 is one of several NYC & Company promotions taking place in January and February. Next month, the first-ever Broadway Week will launch, as well as the third annual On the House, an Off-Broadway program. Both theater promotions will offer two-for-one tickets for a limited time.

See a cute guy in 34C?
A new social networking website,, offers travelers the chance to find out who is traveling with them, discover common interests, and make connections by digitally reaching out to the people around them to start in-person conversations. Additionally, offers real-time travel information, so that passengers and commuters can receive the latest status updates and transit alerts on everything from delays to travel tips. The service is free. Founded by Kiran Patel, a frequent commuter, is tailor-made for people who spend many hours of their days traveling and would like to spend more time connecting with fellow passengers and less time doing Sudoku puzzles. According to founder Kiran, fulfills several key needs. “I wanted to create the site to allow people to tap into the massive resource pool of commuters traveling in close proximity to one another. Maybe you see someone you’d like to go on a date with on the train. Maybe the guy sitting next to you on your flight is looking for a data analyst and you’re a data analyst looking for a job. It could also be as simple as passing helpful travel tips on to the next passenger. The possibilities are really endless.” is compatible with all major airlines, and many major rail routes, including New York’s MTA, NJ Transit, Chicago’s CTA, San Francisco’s BART and AMTRAK. The service also offers users the options of integrating their profiles with their existing social networking profiles. A iPhone app is scheduled to launch in early 2011.

Clark said….

Avoid car rental gotchas this holiday season!

Many people only rent cars about twice a year, once during a summer vacation and once during the Christmas holidays. That leaves a lot of unsuspecting motorists open to common rip-off fees that the car-rental agencies like to push.

Before you take your trip, be sure to find out if your auto insurer covers you for temporary use of a rental car. That should always be your first line of defense against the most common rip-off called collision damage waiver (CDW).

When you’re at the rental counter, you will probably be warned about the consequences of not accepting the CDW, also known by the codes LDW or PDW. Certain credit cards will provide this coverage and allow you to decline the CDW as an add-on. Check with your individual credit card issuer for further details.

Personal effects coverage may also be offered at the rental counter. This covers you in the event something is stolen from your vehicle. Again, you can forget about it. Your credit card may cover you.

On the question of gasoline, you’ll very often be asked if you want to prepay for a tank of fuel. Always decline to prepay, and always fill up the car yourself before you turn it back in. If you choose to prepay, you may be charged two or three times more in service charges than the going rate of gasoline.

In addition, some rental companies are now pushing a daily roadside assistance fee of approximately $5 each day. If the vehicle breaks down on the road, many companies won’t help you unless you purchase this coverage. However, if you have a car for 10 days or longer, you’d probably be better off with a simple AAA membership that will cover you in your regular vehicle for the entire year.


When you finally get out to the car, be sure to do a walk-around and inspect thoroughly. Dents and scratches may not always be noted on your contract. If you discover anything that went unnoticed, be sure to have the rental company indicate it on your contract.

Lastly, we’re now getting word about cars that have been recalled for serious safety defects (including steering and braking) still populating rental fleets. Apparently, companies are not repairing them, they just keep on renting them. That’s scandalous in my mind.

Top 10 Tuesday (today there’s 11!)

Once the holidays end and the New Year arrives, it’s the ideal time to sit down as a family and make vacation travel plans for 2011, according to Amy Graff, Travel and Kids expert for Best Western International and the senior editor for the award-winning blog, On the Go With Amy.

To arm families with fresh ideas for budget- and family-friendly activities, Amy today released her Top 11 Destinations for Family Travel for 2011, which includes “must do” and “must see” ideas ranging from touring a newly built aquarium to discovering U.S. history.

Many of the vacation spots feature new attractions for 2011 as well as some of Best Western’s highest rated properties.

The Top 11 Destinations for Family Travel include (listed in alphabetical order):

1. Brooklyn, New York: Escape the Manhattan bustle and explore this quieter New York borough. In the Park Slope area, you’ll find kid-friendly restaurants such as Flipsters burger joint, while Prospect Park is home to the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where children under 12 get in free. Located within minutes of these attractions, a luxurious Best Western Plus Prospect Park Hotel opened in November 2010.

2. Charleston, S. Carolina: The Best Western King Charles Inn sits in the heart of this historic Southern town with cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture. Kids will enjoy learning history when touring the spooky Provost Dungeon at the Old Exchange or climbing on Civil War-era cannons at White Point Gardens. Also, don’t miss Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

3. Dallas, Texas: Traveling to the Lone Star State just got more fun, with the opening of Legoland Discovery Centre in spring 2011 and Sealife Aquarium in summer 2011. If the lure of theme parks isn’t enough, kids with a need for speed can check out the Texas Motor Speedway Official NASCAR track.

4. Durango, Colorado: – Families seeking an outdoor adventure can climb onboard the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The coal- and steam-powered locomotive chugs along though the wilderness of San Juan National Forest, where you’ll also find countless hiking and mountain biking trails. After taking in the natural beauty of the surrounding area, relax at the Best Western Durango Inn & Suites situated on a hillside.


5. Fort Myers, Florida: From visiting The Shell Factory, which boasts the world’s largest collection of rare seashells and sea life specimens, to exploring the Everglades by airboat on an EcoSafari, families can have fun beyond soaking up the sun. Located on the secluded beaches of Estero Island, Best Western Plus Beach Resort is within walking distance of activities for the young and the young at heart.

6. Hannibal, Missouri.: Great American author Mark Twain was born in this small port town 120 miles north of St. Louis. Browse the exhibits at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, taste the homemade root beer and onion rings at the Mark Twain Dinette, and take in beautiful views of the Mississippi River from your room at the Best Western On the River.

7. Lancaster, Pennsylvania.: You’ll find a dizzying array of attractions in this town 50 miles west of Philadelphia. Kids can create their own candy bar at Hersheypark Chocolate World, go wild at ZOOAmerica, and be thrilled by shows and rides at Dutch Wonderland. Best Western Premier Eden Resort & Suites will pamper parents and please children with its plush accommodations and amenities including shuffleboard, a playground, and a children’s pool.

8. Miami, Florida.: Kids will love the new Adventures of Mr. Potato Head Exhibit at the Miami Children’s Museum. Opening January 2011, the exciting hands-on traveling exhibit allows kids to interact with the classic Mr. Potato Head character. The Best Western Premier Miami International Airport Hotel & Suites offers families the chance to reconnect in the deluxe new accommodations.

9. Scottsdale, Arizona: For a homerun getaway, visit the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies at the brand new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, opening on February 26. Families can check out a game before the official baseball season starts. Best Western Sundial, a brand new contemporary boutique style hotel located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, allows children 16 and under to stay free with an adult.

10. Sonoma, California: While wine tasting isn’t typically a family-friendly activity, Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers wine tasting for adults and a pool, games, and activities for children such as smoothie tastings and special holiday events. Family-owned and operated, Best Western Sonoma Valley Inn provides services and amenities aimed to please all visitors as they experience the wonders of wine country and Northern California.

11. Waikiki, Hawaii: Opening in late spring of 2011, Waikiki Aquarium’s Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Display will feature a living reef ecosystem representative of those found in the world’s most isolated islands. Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel located along the Ala Wai Canal, just three blocks from the world-famous Waikiki Beach, another popular family attraction.

The Best Hotel & Resort Deals

Romance at the beach
The Bay Point Marriott Golf Resort & Spa of Panama City Beach offers a “Winter Romance” package on stays through January 30. This cozy getaway, priced at $199 per night, includes overnight accommodations, champagne and strawberries upon arrival, dinner for two at the resort’s signature Kingfish Restaurant & Sushi Bar and room-service breakfast and a late 1 p.m. check-out. Room only rates on select January dates start at $89. Nestled on the St. Andrews Bay and on 1,100 acres of wildlife sanctuary, this tropical and picturesque resort features two championship golf courses, including the esteemed Nicklaus designed masterpiece. The resort’s Bay Point Lady boat takes hotel guests to Shell Island and its pristine beach (in season), ranked the #1 beach in Florida.

Cuddle up in Charleston
A “Carriages and Cocoa” package from the Francis Marion Hotel starts at $139 on Sunday-Thursday stays and from $169 on weekends on stays through February 28. Guests can take in the magic of Charleston on a complimentary carriage ride, while sipping tall mugs of decadent cocoa. Elegant guest accommodations feature spectacular views of the city. Located in the heart of historic Charleston, the hotel features classic Southern cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar, cocktails and jazz piano music in the Swamp Fox bar, and complete spa services at Spa Adagio.

Make it Miami for New Year’s
A chic new resort in downtown Miami, the Tempo Miami (a RockResort brand), offers a “Make Your Own Fireworks” package, based on a minimum two-night stay. Included are accommodations with views of the fireworks over Biscayne Bay, a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries and brunch in bed on New Year’s Day. Rates start at $299 per night. Each of the 56 luxurious guest rooms and suites have floor to ceiling windows, expansive balconies and Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami views. Guest rooms also feature contemporary decor with exotic woods, textured stone and sleek stainless steel. The hotel is located in the heart of Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District.


Travel Quotation

AOL recently asked its Small Business Board of Director members, “What Are Your Best Travel Secrets?” Here’s one…

Pack half the clothes you think you need. Never let airline and other delays get under your skin.

Bob Parsons, Founder and CEO, The Go Daddy Group

Note: Unless otherwise stated above, follow these guidelines when booking special airfares from Clark Howard’s e-Scapes newsletter:

    No expiration of travel means the rate is valid on trips taken over the next 331 days, or the advance booking window allowed on most airlines International rates are based on mid-week travel days, or with most airlines Monday-Thursday. (one exception is Monday-Wednesday to London). Economy class airfares to Europe require a minimum stay requirement of a Saturday night and a maximum stay of a month. Economy class airfare to Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East typically require a 6-day minimum stay; 30-day maximum. Most domestic coach class airfares, including Canada and Hawaii, are based on mid-week travel. Weekend travel days are typically $10-$30 higher, per direction, for both domestic and international destinations. All airfares shown on e-Scapes are exclusive of taxes, fees, unless noted otherwise. Fuel surcharges on international trips can add from $180-$400 to base rates shown above, varying by continent.

Clark Howard’s Travel e-Scapes Team reminds you that the information in this newsletter is researched on the same day that you receive it. It can happen that by the time you read your copy a particular airfare may already have expired, especially the “HOT” deals listed. Airlines can publish and then ‘pull’, or discontinue sales without warning. Timing is everything!

Get more of Clark’s best travel deals Mondays through Fridays on the Atlanta Travel Deals page.

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