Johnny Jet's Travel Blog

Travel blog featuring best travel sites, travel deals, travel guides, effective travel tips, daily stories with up-to-date travel information, travel pictures, travel webcams. For more, visit my travel portal, www.johnnyjet.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Middle Seat Terminal

Blogs.wsj.com/middleseat
This week’s Travel Video of the Week (below) was found by perusing The Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat blog. That’s when it occurred to me that we have never featured this site. It’s a great blog to get information about airlines, airports and air travel in general. The website unpacks and detangles news with analysis, insight and tips -- plus a bit of fun aimed at those wondering why bad things happen to good travelers. The blog’s lead writer is the Journal’s Matt Phillips but it also includes contributions from other writers at the Journal, WSJ.com and Dow Jones Newswires.

Friday, March 27, 2009

WASHINGTON D.C.

I’m speaking at the annual SATW Editor’s Conference which is being held this year at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. It’s great fun listening to stories from some of the top travel personalities including Wendy Perrin of Conde Nast and Don George of Don’s Place.

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: EarthHour.org


EarthHour.org
In case you've been in the dark, you will be for sure come tomorrow (March 28th) at 8:30pm local time. That's when major corporations, including those in the travel industry, are turning off their lights for Earth Hour and to shine a spotlight on climate change. Abercrombie & Kent and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts are two key participators (their PR person was the first to alert me). So far 2,140 cities, towns and municipalities in 82 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH as part of the world's first global election between Earth and global warming. So if you're traveling or flying and all of sudden, all the lights go out for an hour (the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge and Sydney's Opera House are a few of the participating landmarks around the world) - don't be alarmed. It's just Earth Hour.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: FindTheCookIslands.com

FindTheCookIslands.com
If you're following me on Facebook or Twitter or reading my blog, you'll know that I just returned from the Cook Islands. I'm sure your next question is: Where in the world are the Cook Islands? That was most of my friends' response when I told them. Well, the Cook Island Tourism board realizes America's geography disability so they've launched a new game to raise awareness of this South Pacific nation. The interactive game is a great tourism ploy as it allows users to learn not just about the location but the destination itself along with fun facts. The best part? U.S. residences have the chance to enter a sweepstakes to win the grand prize of a weeklong trip for two people. To enter, visit FindTheCookIslands.com. The sweepstakes runs now through June 16, 2009. The winner must be at least 18 years of age and travel by July 31, 2010. Blackout dates may apply.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Fltadvisor.com

Fltadvisor.com
I heard about this site from my buddy Brett Snyder at CrankyFlier.com. This is for frequent fliers who are serious about avoiding delays, missed connections and cancellations. After the free 30-day trial you’ll pay either $8 a month or $15 for a 10 Flight Alert Pack -- it may be worth it for those who can’t afford to miss a certain meeting, function or cruise, for example. What’s cool about Flight Advisor is that they monitor and personalize your flight departure status. They will email you an advanced analysis of airport, airplane, weather and other factors that affect your flight. They let you know if the aircraft you’re supposed to be on will be on time or not (the airlines usually don’t tell you that info). This information could give you a jump on making alternate arrangements and getting ahead of other passengers. Keep in mind: airlines can switch aircrafts but in my experience, it’s not often and I wouldn’t pay for this service because when I have a critical meeting, I leave a day or two early. But most business travelers usually can’t afford the time so this service would be worth it to them. Especially if they don’t have a travel agent working for them; Flight Advisor will notify them of alternate flights if the flight is cancelled or delayed. Here’s a sample notification.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

US Airways Media Day

I haven’t blogged in a while – I’ve been swamped. On Sunday, I flew from Rarotonga to LAX on Air New Zealand’s weekly flight. My upgrade didn’t go through but coach was a great experience and flight time was a quick 8 hours and 20 minutes. I was only in L.A. for 18 hours since I flew out to Phoenix to check out the plush Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale and attend US Airways Media Day. More to come...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NEARBY TONGA QUAKE (7.7)



If it wasn’t for Facebook, Twitter or CNN.com I would not have known about the major earthquake (7.7) off of Tonga which isn’t very far from here. I was in the Cook Island Tourism office when I find out which was hours later and they had no idea. What’s up with the warnings? You would think they would know that there was a tsunami warning. But all appears to be good here. I’m leaving shortly to board a 34 passenger jet to a more remote island. No internet for 2 days (yikes!).

TRAVEL VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Top Notch Airport Lounges


Top Notch Airport Lounges
One of my travel idols Peter Greenberg has put together an excellent video of some of the world's best airport/airline lounges. I've been fortunate enough to visit many of them and my favorite one out of those he highlights is Cathay Pacific's in Hong Kong. You have to love the incredible free food (noodle bar) and free Wi-Fi. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: MileHighOnTheCheap.com

MileHighOnTheCheap.com
Did you see that Denver International Airport placed fourth in 2008 as one of the nation's busiest airports? According to the annual figures released last week by the Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Denver moved past LAX for the first time; that must mean there's a good amount of people visiting Denver, even if they aren't planning to. So, if you're visiting the Mile High city on purpose or just because you missed your connection, here's a new website that you'll want to check out. It's called MileHighOnTheCheap.com and it features inexpensive or free things to do in the Denver/Boulder area. The highlights include the area's restaurants, attractions, hotels and more that don't break the bank! It's another good reason to travel.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

THE RAINY COOK ISLANDS

Last night I went on an incredible dining tour that every tourism board around the world should mimic. It’s called a “Progressive Dinner” which was hosted by the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation. We visited three homes and enjoyed a dinner course in each one. This is a fantastic way to meet locals, learn something of their customs and traditions and enjoy home-cooked food. The first stop the owner greeted everyone (18 visitors – mostly from NZ) with a hug (and a kiss for the ladies) and then he walked us around his property to look at his lush gardens growing coconuts, passion fruit, mangoes, coffee, taro, star fruit, lemon grass, peppers, onions, papaya... The whole evening was over 5 hours but the hosts were so nice and hospitable and the food was outrageous.

Unfortunately, it’s been POURING pretty much the whole time so I backed out of my safari tour this morning (who wants to sit in the back of an open-air truck for 4 hours in the rain?) and I won’t be circling the 20 mile island on motor scooters this afternoon. Oh well, I’m just happy to be hear and working in bed while watching and listening to the rain. If only my hotel (The Crown Beach) had internet access in the rooms rather then the lobby this place would be perfect.

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: ZebraMap.com

ZebraMap.com
If you, like me, love maps and always want to know what time it is in your favorite place or are curious about volcanoes, then listen up. ZebraMap is a customizable world and time zone map; you can choose the locations you want the map to display, text, positions, size, grid, night/day, color scheme and URL where you want the city to point to. I just created one for my website/blog and it took all of eight minutes. To get started, fill in the registration form (it takes about 30 seconds), confirm your email and then begin by typing in the location you want in the field at the bottom. Warning: It doesn’t have all cities (ahem, Rio de Janeiro) and the time for the Cook Islands was way off. It's free unless you want to remove the banner ad below -- then it costs $1 a month.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Cook Islands

I just landed in The Cook’s (http://www.findthecookislands.com/) and the flight on Air New Zealand was like a dream. What service, food and entertainment! I will upload some pics soon but internet here is at a premium.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

IN L.A. BUT THINKING ABOUT FLORIDA


It’s Sunday morning here in Los Angeles and I’m still lying in bed! But I’m not being lazy --- rather the opposite. I have my computer on my lap and I’m trying to get my work done before I jump on a plane to …? (It’s a surprise so I’ll tell you tomorrow). As I go through this past week’s Florida pictures I must admit I miss going for the daily long walks on the beach with my dad (pictured above). We had so much fun picking up garbage, checking out the waves and talking about life. I’ll post a hint tonight from LAX tonight as to where I'm headed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

DELRAY BEACH TO MIAMI TO L.A.

This morning I flew from Miami to LAX on American Airlines. I took their 8:15am flight (#299) because it’s on a 777 which is a very comfortable two aisle plane. Their other 5 flights MIA-LAX flights are on smaller aircrafts (767, 757 and 737). I got upgraded to business which made the 5 hour and 8 minute flight seem short. The only bummer was the fact the ground crew forgot to load the headsets and the blanket they gave me was filthy (when it’s not wrapped in plastic it’s been used).

Getting to the Miami airport from Delray Beach on a Saturday morning economically was a problem. Unfortunately Tri-Rail ($5) doesn’t operate early enough to make the flight. The drive is a solid 55-minutes and a taxi using the meter would’ve been $130+. Super Shuttle wanted $89 and 24 hours advance notice. My friend Todd recommended his driver Leo (# 561-654-3322) who charge just $95 plus tip and in a comfortable Town Car. He wasn’t available but he arranged for his colleague Roy who runs Boca Transportation for the same price and picked me up in a Suburban right on time at 6am. Roy’s also a cool guy to talk to on an early morning drive and we chatted a lot about the Yankees and the travel industry. BTW: If you book through Roy he charges $115 plus tip so it’s best to call Leo first. And if you want Roy to come in and pick you and your luggage up at baggage claim he charges whatever parking cost – usually about $5 – a great deal.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brazilian Bronze


Speaking of the beach -- last night at Carolina’s in Delray I ran into my boy Pat who owns Brazilian Bronze Suncare Products. I’ve been using his sunscreen for over a year now and it’s so good that they even sell it at Legends Field in Tampa and the New York Yankee player’s wives are addicted to it. What makes Brazilian Bronze special is the fact they are just not for sun protection. They are reef-safe and contain peptides which are all natural and help anti-aging. Brazilian Bronze is formulated to block 95.4% of the UVA / UVB rays. You can buy them online and if you use code #summer08 (hey Pat, its 2009!) during checkout and receive a 10% discount!

PICKING UP GARBAGE

I’ve been going for walks on the beach everyday this week with my dad here in south Florida. At first my dad would only collect seashells but after a couple of days of watching me pickup garbage (mostly plastic bags) he started helping me. Then he turned into the point man – look there, grab that – don’t forget this …. I can’t help it but every beach I go to I try and pickup plastic bags – maybe I have OCD. Malaysia was by far the worst but Florida needs some help too. If everyone who visited the beach would not only not litter but pick up at least 3 pieces of garbage this place would be a better place and I could stroll without having my OCD kick-in.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Still in South Florida

I just returned from a 90-minute walk with my dad on Delray Beach. It was another beautiful hot and sunny day -- here’s Delray’s 10-day weather forecast from weather.com. However, we didn’t swim because today the water was rough and the beach was covered with tens of thousands of small jellyfish and some man-o-war jellyfish. Here’s a link to MyDelrayBeach.com which offers current temps and beach conditions.

GUEST BLOG: Scott McMurren's Alaska!

Here in Alaska, we have a different definition of "Spring". We typically do not see bikini-clad babes on the beach. Rather, we relish the idea of longer days as the sun reaches higher in the sky and our 24-hour daylight inches closer. During March, each subsequent day increases by six or seven minutes.

The temperatures also climb. Last week, it was a virtual heat wave in
Fairbanks--23 degrees ABOVE zero. It was a perfect day to check out the World Ice Carving Championships at the Ice Alaska park in Fairbanks. There are several divisions, including single-block, multi- block, amateur and kids' divisions. There are carving teams from the U.S., Norway, Russia, China, Japan and Canada. The carvers also develop a "kids park" where there are slides and mazes constructed entirely of ice.

This is just one of the fun activities for those of us who live in the frozen. north. But we get cold, too. So we go to Chena Hot Springs, a local resort 60 miles from downtown. One attraction there is an "Ice Hotel". The entire structure is made of ice: the beds, the furniture and even some chandeliers. I snapped a photo here of some life-sized jousters--sitting about seven feet tall on their ice horses.

Everything was carved by the husband-wife team of Steven and Heather Brice. We're still editing the video from yesterday's trip and I will ping you when it's up at Alaskatravelgram.com! Above, I'm sipping an "Appletini" served up in an ice glass, at an ice bar. Notice the jousters in the back.
http://www.chenahotsprings.com
http://www.icealaska.com
http://www.alaskatravelgram.com

The Eau Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach

Last night, my friend Kerry Morrissey -- PR guru from Ocean Properties (http://www.oplhotels.com/directory.htm) -- and I attended the grand opening of The Eau Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach (it’s really in nearby Manalapan). You wouldn’t know we were in the midst of a down economy touring around this place. The 41,000-square-foot spa was stocked with beautiful staff members every few yards, pointing and showing us each feature.

What was cool was the fact that they were showcasing their different treatments so you would walk into an open door treatment room – there are 19, all with their own garden villas -- and there would be someone getting a massage or facial. The snazziest was the pure platinum and diamond facial that is supposed to act as an anti-aging treatment, topped with a diamond and quartz infused elixir.

Prices vary but right now, with the economy the way it is, you can get a room for the night for $599. It sounds steep until you factor in what it includes: a $250 hotel gift certificate (for spa, dining, etc.), free breakfast and parking. Now that’s a good deal, especially when you consider that last year, that $599-room came with no extras. However, if that’s out of your price range, you can just spend the day at The Eau Spa for $75, which includes access to the bath house as well as other amenities. http://www.ritzcarlton.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SOUTH FLORIDA

Okay, so one of our interns thinks my blog is informal and that I need to personalize it more. I think she’s right so in addition to posting the “Travel Websites/Videos of the Day” I will upload current pictures and write stories about my daily travels. We’ll start with the photo above which is of my dad and me walking on a south Florida beach. I took it yesterday as I still haven’t left the house yet – I just sent this week’s newsletter (http://www.johnnyjet.com/folder/archive/archive.html). But I’m about to go for another walk and a swim with the big man shortly. It’s 81 and beautiful out.

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Airline Seating Charts

Airline Seating Charts
I find it so surprising when I travel around the country to speak, that most people (with the exception of road warriors) have never heard of the granddaddy of seating charts: SeatGuru.com. I’m sure you don’t fall into that category so I won’t go into full detail but just in case, they have dozens of airlines’ seating charts, for pretty much each carrier’s different type of aircraft. The most useful aspect is that they show you which seats are the best (denoted in green) and which ones to avoid (in red). They also supply helpful information like if they have power ports or if seats recline all the way. Since you’re probably reading this and thinking, This is old news, Johnny! Give me something new, I’m throwing in these two other seating chart websites. The second most popular is SeatExpert.com. They offer information on just over 50 airlines and some foreign carriers that SeatGuru doesn’t have and some of their advice is a bit different. I sometimes cross reference both. Then there’s SeatPlans.com for those looking for more detailed reviews (besides the ones we write about in our Johnny Jet Travel Newsletter). SeatPlans.com is brought to you by Business Traveller magazine (U.K. edition) and they use the same flight reviews as they put in their magazine. So there you have it – and if I’m missing any, please email us so I can add them to our Johnny Jet portal, which has all three sites listed above. BTW: Here’s the direct link.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: CostToDrive.com


CostToDrive.com
My friend and fellow panelist at the L.A. Times Travel & Adventure Show, Jen Leo from the L.A. Times turned me on to this site. With everyone talking about cutting back on long distance travel this year because of the gloomy economy, new sites are popping up to help Americans budget better. CostToDrive.com gives drivers a great guess-timate of how much your fuel will cost for a future trip. Not only do users input their start and end points but they choose from a drop down menu what make, year and model their car is. It will then show total distance, drive time, gas stations along the way with current gas prices and even your carbon footprint. Note: If you’re traveling by yourself, it’s definitely not cheaper to drive than fly (depending on your distance). For example, my dad just asked me to get him a one-way, last-minute ticket from Palm Beach, Florida to Erie, Pennsylvania and I found a ticket (using JohnnyJet.com’s search engines, of course!) for $154. He asked me if that was a good deal. I said, “You tell me. How much will it cost you to drive?” He thought about gas, food, lodging and time, then said, “That’s a great deal!” You got that right, Daddy-o!

Friday, March 06, 2009

TRAVEL VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Are You Going to Finish Strong

Are You Going to Finish Strong
Okay, I know this one isn't a travel-related video but I think it's so inspiring and that its message can be used for road warriors or anyone stuck in a place they don't want to be, physically or mentally.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: 29travels.com

29travels.com
These days it seems everyone has their own website or blog. If they don't, you know they at least have some kind of social network page like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter ... There are a ton of applications that can be added but many of them are annoying, require a download and aren't the easiest to figure out. That's where 29travels.com comes in. It's a simple website that allows users to create uncomplicated maps to add to their website/blog/webpage. The Map Generator technology, which uses Google Maps, is so easy my sister could probably even figure it out. Just pick the size, color and start checking which countries you have been to, then grab the code and/or hyperlink and add it to your webpage and ... voila! You have a map that shows all the countries you've been to. I just made one and it took me less than five minutes. Here's the link.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Hazelmail.com

Hazelmail.com
These days, not too many people send postcards. Why take the time to go pick one out, handwrite a note like a caveman, find a post office, buy a stamp and then mail it? Delivery time for my postcards usually takes between a few days to a month depending on the country I’m sending it from. It’s a hassle – especially since you can just get instant gratification by sending an email, IM-ing, calling or Skype-ing someone using a webcam to share your experiences. I know I’m old fashioned but I still send postcards to my older relatives and niece and nephew but I must admit, some of the cards I find are not that impressive and half the time, I feel like I’ve taken a better picture of that beach, landmark or sunset myself. I always think to myself I should create my own postcards but it would take even more time … until now.
Thanks to HazelMail.com, you can avoid the hassles described above and log on to a new online service that allows travelers and photo enthusiasts to instantly turn their photos into personalized postcards and mail them from a computer anywhere in the world. To create a postcard, users simply upload a photo, enter a message and address and pay a flat-rate $1.50 postage fee to have the postcard mailed to any destination. To reduce cost and time, HazelMail utilizes a global network of printers located in North America, South America, Europe and Asia to print and deliver postcards closest to the recipient's destination. By printing and delivering locally instead of using international airmail it also helps reduce stress on the planet. It’s available in five languages - English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. You can also create a personal address book on their website to make it easier to send one to the same recipients from your next trip.