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With so much travel news raining down on us, we don't always have time to give every story its own forecast. Here's more of the day's news, in brief.
· Peter Greenburg Leaving Today Show?: Via Conde Nast Traveler's Wendy Perrin's Twitter feed (the newest news source that Twitter), we are hearing that Peter Greenberg won't be appearing on The Today Show anymore. But of course, he'll still be in demand across other networks. [Twitter]
· A Million Miles from Continental: Enter this latest travel contest on TripAdvisor to win a million miles any where that Continental flies. [TripAdvisor via Wendy Perrin's Twitter, again]
· Happy Peace Between Israel and Egypt Day: Today marks the 30th anniversary of peace between Israel and Egypt. [AP]
· FareChase.com Over and Out: Yahoo!'s FareChase has now officially shuttered. [WaPo]
"Scoot" is a funny-sounding word. There's Scooter from the Muppet Show (pictured). There are those Razor scooters that kids and dorky adults ride around town. There's that episode of the Simpsons where Marge says "I haven't lost so much sleep since little Barty had the scoots." And now there's a website that provides user-generated, Google-map-based travel itineraries called TravelSkoot. Map-based itineraries are nothing new - Jaunted is no slouch in the map department, and a certain blogger has churned out a few in his day - but the twist here is that they're user-generated, and many of them have an entertainment and pop-culture focus. There are itineraries that kind of make you want to vomit a little bit, like the Real Housewives NYC itinerary, but there are also a few that are truly inspired, such as the Ferris Bueller's Day Off tour of Chicago. And to give it even more of a celebrity angle (if travel writers can ever be considered celebrities), NBC Today Show Travel Yoda Peter Greenberg has contributed a few Skoots of his own, using categories like "Off the Brochure," "One-Tank Trips," and "America the Beautiful." There's really no limit to the angles you could choose for your own itineraries - the Don Ho Tour of Hawaii, anyone? - so grab a muffin and start skooting.
Not long ago, the BBC reported gunfire at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. But now reports indicate that it was merely a scare, easily understandable in the wake of last week's terrorist attack on Mumbai. So with tensions super high and governments warning about continuing dangers, it's fair to ask, just how safe is India?
The conversation, as usual, is on Twitter, where Budget Travel magazine says:
Peter Greenberg had bad timing in defending travel there in his newsletter today.
A few others agree, but while we said an airport shooting would be "the last thing India needs right now," we also have to get behind Greenberg's call that the Mumbai attacks shouldn't deter travelers.
As the "Today Show" travel editor points out:
The very best time to go somewhere is after there’s been a civil disturbance, a terrorist act or a natural disaster, because … these countries derive the bulk of their foreign exchange from travel and tourism. It supports their economy. The worst thing you can do to a country is to disrupt their travel and tourism if you want to shake their economy to its foundation.
Are the odds of something terrible happening in the next few weeks in India greater than the odds of a terrorist assault on Des Moines before Christmas? Probably. But should we all cross the country off our lists for the foreseeable future? Probably not.
· Surveying Mumbai After The Terror Siege [Jaunted]
[Photo: Stuti ~]
Jaunted homeboy Peter Greenberg recently released his latest book, which, as we explained in our review, highlights the worst places on Earth. Now, when you call your latest tome Don't Go There, you better expect to catch some flak--but lately Peter's been getting dissed by just about everyone whose city was included.
Last week, WJW in Cleveland invited him to do a segment on new travel gear and gadgets--until anchor Stefani Schaefer ambushed him with a question about including her town in his round up of terrible destinations:
Schaefer: I was born and raised here in Northeast Ohio, and I have to say, with many others, [I was] disappointed when your new book... featured Cleveland. May I ask why?
Greenberg: Sure, did you read the book?
Schaefer: Didn't read the book...
Things actually got worse from there.
Note to local news anchors: Peter may be on "The Today Show" instead of "60 Minutes," but if you need any evidence that he knows his stuff and tells it how it is, just call up EasyJet and ask what they think of him these days.
· Travel Expert Explains Why Cleveland Is a "Must-Miss" Location [WJW]
· Peter Greenberg Says "Don't Go There," But Should You Listen? [Jaunted]
As a career travel writer, Peter Greenberg has been pretty much everywhere you'd ever want to go and many places you wouldn't. It's this authority on which he wrote his new book Don't Go There, sure to be a consolation to people who, for whatever reason, can't go to some of the world's top destinations. In fact, in the preface to the book, he argues that travel media have a responsibility to report the bad alongside the good--that some trips will never be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.
Greenberg has had the luxury to go wherever he's desired, and some of his cautions just won't apply to avid travelers; the air pollution of Cairo may deter him from visiting again but not someone who has never seen the Pyramids, for whom a trip to Egypt without visiting its capital would be unthinkable. But while Don't Go There frequently slides from serious to silly, some of its tips are really useful, so long as they concern places people actually go.
His work on dangerous highways and crappy airports is superb, although a blanket statement like "When there's snow in Chicago and fog in San Francisco... just don't go there!" is a bit pointless. And we wish he would have told more of his own stories, but he uses them to cut through categories like Most Depressing Places (Alaska: "How happy can you be when you have to dress in layers?") and still have fun. Don't Go There! is just as flippant as its title, but seasoned and rookie travelers alike can learn something from it. (Even if the lesson is to go there anyway.)
We get Peter Greenberg's radio show as a podcast via iTunes because there's no way we're getting up early on a Saturday to hear it. (Sorry, Peter!) But something strange happened yesterday when we checked our feeds: A not-quite-finished video snuck through with the mysterious description "This post is password protected." Obviously, we opened it immediately.
The 2-minute, 45-second pilot features a combative couple, "The Darlings," who are packing for a trip to the beach. Since all women pack too much (uh, right?), it's gonna take Peter's help to make sure they get things right. Now if only he could take care of that wooden acting!
The clip has openings for quick ads at the beginning and end, and the episode breaks in the middle for a 15-second commercial. No telling when or if we'll see these in production, but we hope the intern who accidentally leaked the pilot on iTunes gets to keep his or her job!
Post-Gonzo travel writer Thomas Kohnstamm showed up on Peter Greenberg's radio show this weekend, and the Today Show travel editor yukked it up with the author of Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?.
Peter cut right to the chase:
PG: We're talking about the incident in the restaurant...
TK: I went by the restaurant, as I was looking at doing a review, and I got into flirting with a waitress... I came back later on, a little after midnight... We had sex on a table in the back of the restaurant.
PG: I thought that was great, I wish I would've had that experience when I was in northeastern Brazil!
If our experience early this year at Sundance taught us anything, it's that film festivals can be more work than fun: After fighting for an overpriced hotel room, you'll have to claw your way up to the bar and elbow your way into screenings. So we're thrilled to see our pal Peter Greenberg promoting alternative film fests.
Peter loves the Maui Film Festival, where screenings are held on the beach under the stars. He also gives it up for the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, where the movies are for kids--and directed by kids. And the Palm Springs fest draws plenty of stars without the haughty atmosphere of, yep, Sundance.
After the jump, Peter hobnobs in Palm Springs with Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet and the late Sydney Pollack.
Apparently renting a house instead of paying for a hotel room is the new hotness, as both Conde Nast Traveler and Peter Greenberg have lately started hyping the vacation option. We have to agree that rentals are dope, and they can be a good way to save money if you're traveling with a big group.
We actually just got back from a villa rental trip, though "cottage" would probably more accurately describe our pad than "villa." Still, we learned a few things that we hope will make your own villa vacay better.
After last week's Congressional smackdown, all our planes are safe, right? Uh, how does "relatively" sound? And we thought James Oberstar, inset, would have this all handled by now!
Peter Greenberg just posted a recent back-and-forth he had with an FAA inspector in Chicago:
He said, "My assignment is to inspect all the planes flown by Mesa Airlines."
I said to him, "Well, don't you guys also inspect go! in Hawaii?"
He said "Yeah."
I said, "When was the last time you were in Hawaii?"
"Well, I haven't gotten around to it yet."
Blame Peter Greenberg. About a week ago, the travel guru wrote an article hyping Rule 240, which used to govern interline agreements on airlines. Basically it said that airlines couldn't keep you captive in the terminal if they cancelled your flight; they had to put you on the next one out. But the rule no longer exists in that form, as Greenberg himself admits in his story.
That didn't stop the piece from getting picked up elsewhere, with people claiming that "invoking Rule 240" would solve all your canceled-flight woes regardless of the airline you're on. Wrong. Your trip on any given airline is always governed by a contract--called the contract of carriage--and if you act like a jerk, there's no way you'll get anything more than what that document mandates.
So what's a flyer to do? Know your stuff before you get to the airport.
Long ago Fark's Drew Curtis hit the nail on the head when talking about the media's treatment of holiday travel:
Every single holiday, every local AAA chapter contacts their local Mass Media outlets to notify them that traffic will be bad. Here's a concept: Why not tell us when traffic won't be bad.
Of course, we all know that mass media, like the rest of us, doesn't really like to work during holiday time. Thus canned broadcast and newspaper stories are the rule rather than the exception, during times like these. Who do we really feel bad for on days like today? Guys like our boy Peter Greenberg, an absolute wealth of great travel information, who was in the ATL airport this morning answering silly travel questions from Today show viewers. However, the look you see on Peter's face in the above photo is not a reaction to a viewer question, it is a reaction to Today Show host Natalie Morales asking Peter to confirm that using a cell phone in-flight won't "bring down the plane". Yeah.
Peter eases Natalie's fears and tells us that cell phone usage is simply bad etiquette and WiFi is the direction airlines are going. However, WiFi on planes is also fraught with etiquette threats. Of course there is Skype, but does anyone remember the whole flying podcast thing?
The takeaway from all this? Air traffic and auto traffic is going to be heavy over the next couple of days and airline WiFi needs to take a movie theater approach to the uncouth. If you need more info, the story is now "breaking" on CNN.