Travel Blog


Money Saving Travel Tips

October 30th, 2017 ernie Posted in Trip Planning No Comments »

Money Saving Travel TipsThis rotten winter might have you hankering to take a vacation. And the less-than-robust economy means you’d probably like to travel for the least amount of money. Always look for deals and ways to save money, but you need to watch out for the scams as well. If your planning a vacation check out all of the deals, take advantage of traveling in time frames that are not as popular.

Visit travel shows and pick up tips as well as coupons for discounts on various trips and places to visit.

Money Saving Travel Tips

To get an airline’s lowest airfare, try calling the carrier instead of booking online . You may think all the available inventory is on the web. Not even close. It’s only the inventory they want to put online. The same applies to hotels.

As an example, The lowest fare online: American’s $809. Calling American directly and asking if the airline had a “positioning flight” (when a carrier needs to get one plane from one city to another); netted a flight for $109.

If you searched for airfares on a site but didn’t buy a ticket, use a different browser or computer on your next visit or clear your computer’s cookies and cache. Otherwise you may be shown a higher fare because you left cookies the first time and the site knows you’re eager to buy.

If you belong to a Frequent Flier program, check its site for fares using your number and without it. “Delta offered me a fare for $529 and then I went put in my Frequent Flier number, the fare suddenly jumped to $607,” They said there was a different class of tickets for Frequent Fliers.”

Train lovers with time on their hands should look into Amtrak’s 15-day go-anywhere deal. “You can get off and on anytime and see all of your dysfunctional relatives in one trip for $500; $250 for kids under 12.

Exploit the cruise industry’s bad publicity (the Costa Concordia and Carnival Triumph disasters) and excess capacity. “It’s a buyer’s market with rates as low as $149”.

Call a hotel directly for its best room rate rather than booking online or phoning its 800 number. “You can get more discounts from a phone call than from a website,”. Conversely if the hotel rate is higher than usual, check the online price. Sometimes they forget to update the prices online.

When you call, ask for the manager on duty or director of sales, not “reservations,”. That’s the person who knows that a wedding just canceled and the hotel suddenly lost 30 booked rooms.

Ask value-added questions: Can my kids stay free? Can they eat free? I recently had to rent a car in San Francisco and asked the hotel if I could get free parking and I did. The parking normally cost $42 a night.

Consider alternative lodgings to hotels. “I love hotels, but they’re rarely the most interesting place to stay and they’re usually the most expensive,” . One person bragged about renting a two-bedroom apartment in Venice for $83 a night.

Scams

Watch out for “free” travel offers on Facebook. What may look like a giveaway of two free Southwest tickets from “Allison” is really a ruse to trick people into giving up personal information.

Never click through a link, even if it looks legitimate.

Don’t agree to rent out someone’s home until you speak, Skype or FaceTime with them. “Legitimate renters are happy to talk to you. Skype or FaceTime conversations are best because you can then insist on seeing the whole apartment or house.

Bargain destinations

Visit countries where few Americans vacation.

Go where the local currency has been pounded.

But perhaps the biggest bargain of all (once you get there): Bali in the South Pacific. You can almost live there on $5 a day.”

For more travel planning posts, click here.

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Rafting River Rogue whitewater

May 28th, 2017 ernie Posted in Oregon, Travel No Comments »

National Geographic Adventure considers the Rafting river Rogue whitewater the best wildlife viewing of all the western rivers
* Sparkling rapids, green forest and historical sites
* The ultimate Oregon family camping adventure
* Trips to fit any skill level or age group
* Experienced and outrageously fun guides
* Affordable prices for priceless memories

Welcome to the Wild and Scenic Rogue River a beautiful and pristine wilderness area. Novelist Zane Grey felt the draw of this beautiful area; he wrote many of his western books in a cabin which still stands along the Rogue today. The area is steeped in history and lore from Native Americans to recent stories told around the campfire. The Rogue has famous fun rapids like Rainie Falls, Upper and Lower Black Bar Falls and Blossom Bar that will leave you memories of the sun dancing off of frothing warm water through beautiful rock formations and narrow canyons edged by towering cliffs.

Rafting River Rogue whitewater

Legendary wildlife viewing the Rogue River canyon. Deer, black bear, river otters, mallard ducks, turtles, bald eagles, and osprey are usually seen during your 34 mile trip from Grave Creek to Foster Bar.

The Rogue River canyon from Grave Creek to Foster Bar features a historic hiking trail just above the river so hiking to side creeks and hidden swimming pools is easy and the views are spectacular. The Pacific Northwest Cascade Mountain Range near Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon is where the Rogue River starts its journey to the Pacific Ocean.

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Costa Rafting Rica whitewater

May 21st, 2017 ernie Posted in Costa Rica, Travel No Comments »

 

Costa Rafting Rica whitewaterWhite water rafting adventure tours through the rain forest will make your Costa Rica rafting whitewater vacation truly one of a kind ! Costa rafting Rica whitewater can be a great vacation adventure.

In the Atlantic region of Costa Rica there is a protected zone of incomparable beauty that begins near the town of Siquirres and covers approximately 25,000 acres as it descends down the Talamanca Mountain Range. This is the area known as Pacuare, which constitutes one of the most important protected areas in the region. High annual rainfall, along with its proximity to the lowlands combine to nature the complex life systems whose abundance make for extraordinary scenic beauty. This area is still inhabited by the Cabecar Indians, you can hike the same paths that this indigenous tribe still uses.

The Pacuare River, located within this zone, offers some of the finest white water rafting in Costa Rica and in Latin America. This officially designated Wild and Scenic River winds deep inside impressive primordial rain forest. Remote and scenic waters course through a wilderness of dense vegetation covering the sides of steep gorges that rise above the riverbanks. The thick undergrowth provides shelter to jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, sloths, and numerous other species of animals and birds.

Costa Rafting Rica whitewater

The trip down this wild and scenic river offers some of the finest white water rafting in Latin America and takes you past luxuriant rain forest, crystalline waterfalls and dense vegetation covering the sides of steep gorges. It is also an environmentally sustainable adventure that is carbon neutral and supports efforts to conserve the river’s ecosystems and help nearby communities.

Costa Rica rafting whitewater trips float past pristine tropical forest populated by toucans, parrots and other birds, some of which are protected in the 637-acre (258-ha.) nature reserve, where the fast-growing trees absorb more atmospheric carbon than local vehicles emit, making tours carbon-neutral.

This unforgettable river adventure combines class-II and -IV rapids with floats past breathtaking scenery that includes massive tropical trees and waterfalls that plummet into the river. Paddle through more adrenaline-pumping rapids and marvel at amazing scenery, such as the narrow canyon of Dos Montañas.

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Travel Suitcase Packing Tips

March 3rd, 2017 ernie Posted in Trip Planning No Comments »

We came across a great list of travel suitcase packing tips that will make your life easier and may even save you money as well. Take a few minutes to think about where you are going, how you will get there and what you will do when you arrive. Give some thought about the things you will need to have with you and plan accordingly. Remember most things you can buy at your final destination, if you forget something. But there are some personal items you may not be able to do without. Personally, I keep a list of things that I need to do for each trip. Going through the list one by one helps to make sure we do not forget anything that we are going to need.

Travel Suitcase Packing Tips

 

 

  • Pack light to travel light. If you can manage with only a carry-on for your trip, do it. Take half of the things you need and twice the money. Purchasing a few new items can be a fun part of the adventure.
  • Pack a sleep mask and ear plugs. These can come in handy on a plane, train or even in your hotel room.
  • Capitalize on empty suitcase space. Roll your clothes, instead of folding them. Stuff socks, underwear, and accessories in corners and inside of shoes. Leave no space unused.
  • Keep a light blanket in your carry-on. They can be used as a blanket on the plane, a sarong  can be used as a scarf if it’s cold or a shawl on an evening out.
  • Bag it. Sandwich bags can be used to hold your accessories, vacuum pack bags can be space savers, and trash bags have multiple uses (laundry bag, shoe covers).
  • Skip airport snacks and bring your own. You can save yourself  money and keep your hunger at bay in case you have a delayed flight.
  • Create compartments. Two words: packing cube. If you are visiting more than one city during your trip, packing cubes will keep your suitcase organized and save you from having to pack and unpack.
  • Share your packing space. Traveling as a couple? Split your clothes between two suitcases on the off chance one of them gets lost during the flight.
  • Bring a multi-socket extension cord. Although newer hotels have USB ports in rooms, it’s best to have an extra outlet to charge all of your electronics at once.
  • Make photocopies before leaving home. If you’re traveling out of the country, make two photocopies of your passport. Use your smartphone to take pictures of your car in the airport’s parking garage and do the same for your luggage and its contents in case it gets lost.

 

 

 

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Texas Roadhouse Knoxville

January 19th, 2015 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

We visited the Texas Roadhouse Knoxville at 11001 Turkey Dr, Knoxville, TN and found it to be another excellent restaurant in the chain of steak houses made famous in Texas. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a couple of draft beers, salad and a combo steak and ribs. Both were done to perfection and the service was excellent.

If there is anything to complain about at this restaurant is that the portion sizes are huge. We often split meals while traveling and since the portion sizes are so large. The food was excellent and so was the service.

Texas Roadhouse Knoxville – Happy Hour?

The only complaint that we would have is that there is no happy hour, but other than that, it is an excellent place to eat. The packed restaurant on a Sunday night is tantamount to the fact that they have great food.

Contrary to what we expected, not all Texas Roadhouses have happy hour every night. It seems it really depends on the location as well as on the day of the week. You only save a couple of dollars if there is a happy hour. It all counts and maybe you will just have one more beer if you are buying cheap drinks.

 

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Travel tips

January 14th, 2015 ernie Posted in Trip Planning No Comments »

Travel tipsWe can all use travel tips to help us plan a successful trip. If you plan to be driving to your next destination vacation, plan your route in advance. Make sure to travel with a fully charged cell phone for emergencies. Or make sure that you have a charger in your car.

Road trips provide families with a chance to spend quality time together,. You will also be in close quarters for the duration of your travels and it helps to keep arguments at bay and everyone content by packing a variety of games, activities, and other things that will appeal to everyone’s interest.

While you may not need your passport if you’re staying inside the country, ensuring that all of your passengers have adequate identification in the case of an emergency is important. For those who are planning a vacation outside the country, remember that everyone traveling with you must have a valid passport. This includes your travels to Canada, to the US and Mexico. Just in case make sure that everyone is passport is valid well beyond the expected date of your return to Canada or to the US depending in which country you live in.

Travel Tips can Ensure a Successful Trip

No one likes to think about it, But planning for the unexpected is an important aspect of traveling. Take copies of your passport identification. Itinerary and insurance policy with a friend or family member who you can contact while in your travels if need be.

Make sure to take care of any health needs before you leave. Include necessary vaccinations and obtain sufficient supply of your prescription medications.

Always remember that weather with an adult or traveling alone all children traveling outside the country must have a valid passport. Other documentation may be required to allow the child entry into another country, such as a birth certificate, legal forms pertaining to custody agreement and a parental letter of consent if a child is traveling with one parent, neither parents or alone.

Always obtain health insurance, and travel insurance prior to leaving on vacation. Once you travel outside your province, or state, or country your existing health insurance may not provide the coverage that you require. In emergency you don’t want to be worried about who’s going to pay the expensive cost of medical coverage. Always travel with Health and travel insurance.

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National Do not call list

March 29th, 2014 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

National Do not call listThe National Do not call list is one way to reduce spam calls that we all get from time to time. But does it really work? Well the answer appears to be partially. We still get a lot of calls from people trying to sell us various things. These include the usually duct cleaning services, rug cleaning services, lawn services etc. These are not too bad except when they call at dinner time and interrupt your meal with your family. This is probably what ticks most people off. As soon as you know that it is one of these companies, most people will just hang up and that is the end of it.

National Do not call list – How to get on it

Many of you will already know this, however if you want to register your number on the “do not call list”, you can go to the following site to register your number so that those annoying telemarketing calls will decrease. They will not be eliminated, but they should decrease.

Here is the link

https://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/insnum-regnum-eng

You can also call 1-866-580-3625

National Do not call list – Report them

If you still get calls from companies, you have several choices. These include just hanging up on them which works very well. You can also threaten to report them and they usually hang up immediately since they know that there is no chance of a sale and they do not want to get reported. The third approach is just answer the phone, listen for a minute and then set the phone down without hanging up. They will continue talking giving their sales pitch until they realize there is no one there and then they will hang up. They have taken up your time so why should you not also do the same thing to them.

Don’t forget to hang your phone up since as long as it is off hook you will not get any calls. Most people will glance at the incoming number on the screen and if they do not recognize it, they will just not answer it.

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Canadians travel cost going up

February 7th, 2014 ernie Posted in Trip Planning No Comments »

Canadians travel cost going upMany Canadians spend their vacation in the US. Snow birds make the annual trip south every fall to escape the snow and ice in Canada. They head to Florida, Texas, Arizona and California to spend the winter. They head home once the winter is over. Canadians have enjoy warm temperatures and also a strong dollar for the past 5 years. However now the dollar is not so strong and Canadians travel cost going up means it is going to cost more.

Canadians travel cost going up – Categories

Exchange rate

Lately the exchange rate, the price you pay to purchase US dollars has been going up. As of writing this post the best rate that is currently posted is ninety cents or in other words it takes approximately $1.11 Canadian to purchase $1.00 US, which is an 11 percent increase in the cost compared to a few years ago. It costs more to travel as a result and Canadians are beginning to look for cost saving measures.

Cost to travel

If your vacation is costing you $1000, then you are going to pay an additional $111 Canadian for every $1000 US you are going to spend. This can be significant and can add a significant amount for more expensive vacations.

Hedging the exchange rate

One solution is to hedge the exchange rate by averaging your cost over a year. As rates change you will pay the current rate, but at least you will not lock in the rate for your total vacation. if rates improve which they might then you get to take advantage of the improved rates. Unfortunately it also works the opposite way as well. The economists are forecast and $.85 cent dollar by mid 2015, which means that your US vacation cost is going to go up another 5%!

Cutting back on travel

Another solution which is not popular with many people is that the Canadians will start cutting back on travel to conserve money and bring it back to levels that they can afford with the increasing costs. This will hurt the travel industry to some degree and could even trigger a decline for a short period in this industry.

Let’s go anyway

Many senior snow birds realize that they may not have than many years left that they can travel and as a result just suck it up and plan to go anyway. They only live once and if they can get the money together they plan to go regardless of what the cost will be.

What are your plans for vacationing in the United States this coming year?

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Drury Inn Lafyette Louisiana

January 30th, 2014 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Drury Inn Lafyette Louisiana We have stayed at a number of Drury inns across the US.  This time it was the Drury Inn Lafyette Louisiana. They’re usually in the main cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Detroit and so on.

They offer good value in terms of a place to stay, happy hour at night and a hot breakfast in the morning. The price for two people is typically around $100. This includes both the room, free Wi-Fi, happy hour at night, and a hot breakfast.

Happy hour at night includes three alcoholic drinks per person, plus bar food such as a baked potato, mac & cheese, hot dogs, salad and soup.

Drury Inn Lafyette Louisiana

The Drury Inn in Lafayette Louisiana met all of these requirements. However we are becoming less and less supportive of this particular hotel chain. The rooms are not soundproof, and the beds are generally uncomfortable. We found that this particular hotel was a bit rundown and tired.

The beds are not good quality beds and are uncomfortable. And in fact we had a sore back the next morning.
It just does not measure up to Hampton Inns.

While you get the value for the money consumers may want to decide whether it is worthwhile to have a free meal or pay a little bit more and stay at a Hampton Inn

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Travel tips

January 30th, 2014 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Travel tipsWe put together a list of travel tips that we feel are must haves for traveling while in your own country or even in other countries. This list is based on our own personal experiences and includes the items that we have found helpful. You may not need these things all of the time on every trip, but you will need some of them from time to time. Just having them will give you peace of mind and make your trip much more pleasant in many situations. Enjoy your trip and if you have one that you would like us to add to the list, just leave us a comment and we will be happy to add it to the list.

Travel tips

  • Bring a deck of cards to play solitaire or bridge with new friends.
  • A folding paper fan works wonders when waiting at a bus in hot countries.
  • A small LED headlamp is perfect for emergencies or for reading at night.
  • Small folding umbrella that has light aluminum spines and handle.
  • Homemade packages of almonds and raisins for an inexpensive healthy stack.
  • Bring toilet paper for those emergency situations in countries that do not provide toilet paper
  • Bring a compass to help you find your direction.
  • If you are traveling alone carry the front section of the newspaper from home and keep it in view while you’re dining, it is an invitation to those who speak your language.
  • Always dressed down and travel to observe and not to be observed.
  • Hide emergency money in an old vitamin bottle with a few pills in it, thieves will not be interested in your vitamin C.
  • Always tell friends where you’re going and check in with them on a regular basis.
  • Make copies of your passport and leave them with the same friends in case of an emergency.
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Barbecue restaurants – the Shed

January 24th, 2014 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

The shed barbequeOne of the things we like to do on this particular blog is to write about unique experiences and interesting topics. This particular post will be about a barbecue restaurant that we discovered in Biloxi Mississippi, actually just outside of Biloxi. This restaurant is actually a barbecue restaurant located on route 57 just north of interstate 10. It is a barbecue restaurant, called the Shed! This restaurant is actually very rustic and pieced together from corrugated tin, wooden posts and a collection of knickknacks from various locations around the state. It is situated beside the bayou and in the summertime people can eat outside on the bayou.

The Shed Barbeque Restaurant

It is known worldwide for the barbecue ribs, pulled pork and a variety of other meats that are absolutely excellent. We went for lunch and had a two meat combo with sweet taters and coleslaw. The ribs were excellent with the meat falling off the bone, the pulled pork tasted great as well. During the day they play blues music, and in the evening they play live music with a number of different entertainers that come in.

The Shed Blues JointThere’s a campsite nearby and also an RV park. This would be a great place to spend an evening listening to blues music and having a fantastic meal. The interior of the Shed Barbeque restaurant is just like the outside. Very rustic and down to earth literally. Patrons can sit at the bar and enjoy a few beers along with their meal. They can head over to the dining area which are picnic tables on a gravel floor. This is as basic as it gets. The atmosphere is extremely interesting and enjoyable. We have talked to other patrons who tell us that they go to the Shed every time they are in the area. The combination of food and eclectic decoration is wonderful.

The Shed Dining In case you are wondering this is not an advertisement written by the restaurant staff. Although it might sound like it. We really like the food . We really enjoy going to this particular restaurant every time we are in Mississippi along the golf coast.

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Logan’s Roadhouse Restaurant

January 19th, 2014 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Logan's Roadhouse RestaurantWe have just come back from Logan’s roadhouse, in Cookeville Tennessee. This is the second time we have been to a Logan’s roadhouse and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Large 20 ounce draft beer for three dollars, a combination meal of ribs and steak along with baked potato and Caesar salad for $19 large enough for two people to share it easily and great entertainment. It is Sunday night and all the screens are showing the NFL football games. Apparently Payton Manning just beat Tom Brady!

Logan’s Roadhouse Restaurant – Meeting People

20140119-191207.jpgThere are always lots of characters at any of the roadhouses that we have been to. In this case the person sitting at the bar is a woman, probably in her 70s wearing cowboy boots and a Texas style hat. She’s enjoying herself, having a drink, and a meal and quite comfortable sitting at the bar. By the way she enjoys football because she’s pretty intent on watching the game. The bartenders are very friendly, and helpful when they have the time. That is the one thing about these bars is that they are usually pretty busy with lots of people. They are a popular place to go regardless of what city we seem to be in. Our perfect combination is a Hampton Inn and a roadhouse next door preferably a Texas Roadhouse or a Logans Roadhouse.

20140119-191333.jpg We spoke to the manager of this particular restaurant who wanted to know where we were from and what we were doing passing through. We had a long conversation and enjoyed talking with her. She actually has relatives in Quebec. After our meal was finished she gave us a desert on the house. No calories but fabulous, lol.

This was graham cracker base with a light creamy pudding with whip cream on the top covered in Carmel sauce. If you ever have a chance to try Logan’s roadhouse, anywhere in the states don’t miss the opportunity it’s a great place to spend an evening. A great way to end our evening.

Tomorrow we are on our way to Memphis Tennessee and then on to Tunica Mississippi.

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Do Americans tip enough?

January 14th, 2014 ernie Posted in Tipping No Comments »

Do Americans tip enoughWe just read an article about tipping, which suggested that just about anyone who provides a service to you should be tipped. This is part of our research about, ” Do Americans tip enough?”. This includes the taxi driver, the person who delivers furniture to your home, the person who cuts your grass, the restaurant waitress, the bartender and on and on and on. There have been some acceptable norms in terms of tipping and most people will tip 15% for average service.

But it does not include everyone that provide services to the average consumer. For most people they will tip the waiter or the waitress, the bartender, and people who generally provide service in the tourism industry.

Do Americans tip enough?

But recently barristers at coffee shops have tip jars out and just about anyone who is providing service who didn’t traditionally collect a tip is now suggesting that they should be tipped for the job that they’re doing.

We strongly believe that people who are being paid for the job and doing a job and don’t do anything out of the ordinary in terms of providing service to you should not receive the tip.

For example the taxi driver who does not get out of his car to open the car door for you, or help get your bags out of the trunk and onto the sidewalk does not deserve a tip. The coffee shop person who fills your coffee, makes change and get you your cup should not get a tip for just doing their job. Many people will disagree with us, but that is our thoughts on the question, “do Americans tip enough?”.

If any of these people do something special then obviously you should consider tipping but this new trend of tipping everybody even if they don’t do anything special for you is just out another way for people to get ripped off and pay extra for the services that they should be getting free.

An example is worth talking about that we think is illustrative of the kind of location and time that should be considered for tipping. A hotel that we go to quite often, approximately every two weeks provides coffee and drink service.

The waitress only sees us every two weeks among thousands of people that she provides coffee service and drink service for. Yet she remembers our faces, and how we like our coffee including how much cream and sugar we take in our coffee without us having to tell her. When we order coffee it is delivered promptly and with a smile and a small conversation inquiring how we are with the coffee exactly how we like it. This is an example of great service and well worth the tips that we provide to her.

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Save Money on Parking Meters

December 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Reduce Travel Costs No Comments »

Save Money on Parking MetersThe cost of parking in downtown areas in most cities in North America has become the incredibly expensive.  For example if you are parking using a parking meter it can be as much as three or four dollars an hour.  If you use a parking lot that is maintained by a parking authority is not uncommon to pay $20-$30 a day.  Whether you are going to work or a tourist visiting the city it makes sense to plan your parking so that you can save money and reduce your overall cost for your vacation.

Parking meters

if you have to use a and one of the passengers is staying with the car you can often wait until you see the reader coming down the street before putting money in the parking meter.  Often people leave their parking spot with the meter still running and if you’re lucky you can score an empty spot with a running parking meter and save a few dollars.  Parking meters are suitable for short term parking, however if you need more than a couple of hours it makes sense to just use a parking lot or find some other alternative.

Paid parking lots

The hotel we’re staying they charge a fee for parking and if you have not negotiated the parking is part of your hotel bill when you made your reservation you will pay the full fee.  Some hotels upon negotiation will offer up a discount on parking or in some cases free parking if it is a slow period for them.  If you are driving into the city many parking lots offered early bird rates which are 20 to 25% lower than rates offered later on in the day.

In many parking lots you’ll have to arrive prior to 9 AM to get the early bird rate.  Another approach is to park at a free parking lot at the mall somewhere in the urban areas of the city and then take the mass transit into the downtown area that you are visiting.  Usually the cost of mass transit is lower than a parking brake at a downtown parking lot plus the cost of gas it used to get there.

Airport parking rates

Airports are notoriously expensive for parking overnight, by the week or even longer by the month.  There are a lot of alternatives to parking at the airport.  A friend can drive you to the airport, you can take a taxi to the airport, or in many cities you can even take mass transit and save a bundle on parking.  If you are going to need parking for a week or a month, usually the long term parking lots are a better place to park your car at lower rates.  For most people the best approach is to have someone driving to the airport and pick them up when they return home.  Even if you have to pay the person and the cost of gas is still would be cheaper than paying for parking.

Plan your trips carefully taking into account your accommodations, the cost of accommodations and the parking at the hotel where you will be staying.  Many hotels on the outskirts of the city will offer free parking and shuttle service to downtown areas as well as to airports.  This is another excellent way to reduce the overall cost of parking.

If you know of other ways to reduce the cost of parking, please leave a comment and we’ll be glad to add them to our list.

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Restaurant Tip Reporting

December 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Tipping No Comments »

Restaurant tips can vary a lot depending on the location, the quality of the food, the level of service, even the decor, and of course the customer who may or may not be feeling generous.  Restaurant tip reporting can vary depending on may factors. The average seems to be 15% for average service.  Some people feel obliged to tip as much as 20% and if you are either part of a large group, the restaurant will levy a tip of 18% regardless of the type of service that you receive.  In fact when the waiters and waitresses know they’re getting 18% quite often the level of service declines.

Some people tip much more just because they feel obliged to tip more and are embarrassed and worried that the waiter will give them a bad look or create a scene, or bad service if they come back again.  While many people will leave no tip at all, which actually is really bad form, particularly if you received excellent service and excellence for food.

Restaurant Tip Reporting – Sending a Message

Many tips are on credit cards and are just added onto the total bill.  In fact the credit card machines already have the amount calculated for you or a selection that you can pick in terms of the percentage amount or the dollar amount.  But what is the right way to tip and what you do if you want to send a message.

In the industry a 15% tip appears to be the average tip that is expected for average service, average food and average surroundings.  I like to think that to apply 5% to each of these categories is the right approach.  The waiter is in control of the level of service, and to some degree of making sure that your food arrives hot and is exactly what you ordered.  The quality of the food is up to the chef and the surroundings are really up to the owner.  Should you penalize the waiter by tipping less when the quality of the food is not great or the surroundings of the restaurant is not great?

The writer prefers to tip 15% and then call the waiter aside to mention any comments or concerns that they might have.  If you did not like the food or the food was bad you should send it back.  If the surroundings and the quality are not what you would like, then you should not have gone there in the first place.  If the service is terrible and the food is terrible then definitely send a message by lowering the amount of the tip.  Some people have left a one penny tip just to send a serious message to the waiter and the staff.  I think a better approach is to call the manager or the maître d’ over and explain the situation.

Accounting is easy for tips since most of them are calculated using the credit card machines and easily added at the end of the night.  These are on record and must be reported by the restaurant accounting.  But what about cash tips?  Can cash tips be somehow siphoned off to avoid the tax man?  Many tax agencies have now ruled that waiters and waitresses should receive 15% of the total food and bar take regardless of whether it was paid via credit cards or in cash.  There’s no getting away from the taxman.

If you consistently received more than 15% in tips, and most waiters and waitresses will hide that money and avoid paying tax on it where they can.  However once it gets into the system in terms of credit card receipts there is little they can do but to report this income.  If you are ever audited, there’s a good chance that you will pay much more in income tax.

In summary consumers should consider 15% average, 20 percent for excellent service and 10% for poor service however we suggest that you call the waiter, the manager or the maître d’ over and explain why you’re providing a lower tip.  This gives everyone a chance to improve their service the next time.

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Sandrinas Bucerias

November 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Sandrinas Bucerias MexicoThis is another really great restaurant in Bucerias, Mexico. Just down the block from Marks restaurant, you might not even go onto this restaurant because it is also a boutique at the front with a great looking tropical restaurant at the back of the building. You may think it is just another small store, however if you go inside and go to the back of the store there is a great restaurant with great food to try!

This is a must location to visit for lunch or dinner. Some evenings they also will have entertainment. It is a wonderful place to spend an evening under the stars in a tropical environment.

Sandrinas Bucerias Mexico

Bucerias is a small Mexican town north of Puerto Vallarta on Banderas Bay. You get there by there by bus or car from Pureto Vallara and enjoy the day at the beach with a great dining experience that evening.

Sandrinas Bucerias restaurant mexicoTropical outdoor setting with a band playing on some evenings. As you can see from this picture, it is a very enjoyable spot to have a glass of wine, a beer or perhaps some tequila, which is Mexico’s drink of choice.

Many restaurants in the Puerto Vallarta will serve their customers a shot or two of tequila regardless of what drink they order. At one location we ordered beers all around and the bartender followed the beers with shots of tequila to help us enjoy our meals.

We are not sure if the meals were better or not, but we were well satisfied with the service, the drinks and the meals we had. Sandrinas is a bit more upscale than these sort of restaurants. Patrons are dressed in tropical attire and generally are well dressed as well. Being close to the beach area’s patrons can stop in almost at any time for a meal or a snack under one of the umbrellas.

For more details about the Puerto Vallarta area, click here.

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Our News Twitter Feed

November 1st, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel 1 Comment »

News Twitter FeedThis page is totally dedicated to providing a running news source of all of the posts that we have written over the years. In fact our news twitter feed will show you a random feed of posts  with links to our various web sites. We constantly update our posts and we also add new posts every week. Check them out from time to time!

These posts cross a broad subject matter and you will see something different every day so check back often to read up on the latest posts about a variety of topics.

News Twitter Feed

As of this update we now have over 1100 followers and growing every day. It is pretty amazing that we have this number of followers and that people also retweet some of our tweets. We feel it says a lot about what consumers want to read about.

If you see something that peeks your interest or you want to know something more about, just let us know and we will do the research and tweet a new post about that subject. This is a long term project of ours and something we care about. We love to write about various subjects and we also learn in the process.

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How to Take a 4 Month Vacation

September 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Trip Planning No Comments »

How to Take a 4 Month VacationMost people who are going vacation and only have a couple of weeks to be away from work. They want to maximize time that they have while on vacation and as a result they’re paying great deal for hotels and airfare and meals. But there are other ways to go on vacation and have your cost kept to a minimum while still enjoying all of the things that there are to enjoy in other countries. If you are wondering how to take a 4 month vacation, read on. We have some great ideas for you to consider. Developing a plan to take a 4 month vacation is very important as well.

How to Take a 4 Month Vacation – Rent  vs. Hotels

The first step is to rent a condo, apartment, or house where you can make some or all of your own meals. This is a far less expensive way to go on vacation than if you are in a hotel and eating out for each meal. When we do this sort of thing, we might eat out a couple of times a week or take in a happy hour with the rest of our meals eaten in our rented condo. Another way to save some money is to take in happy hours and street kiosks. You may not always want to do this, but it is a nice variation.

One of the neat things about renting a condo for a fraction of the cost it would be to stay in a hotel or motel is that you can then afford to spend more time on your vacation. Personally I would rather take this time away then have a few expensive meals and stay in a hotel. We are able to travel much more when we conserve money in this manner and many of our friends wonder how we can afford to travel the way we do.

Camping and Hostels

Of course some people will never eat out and might even camp or stay in hostels, which is another approach to traveling cheaply. Of course you can travel for longer periods of time when you travel in this manner. For other folks a middle of the road approach allows them to enjoy some luxury and some roughing it as well.

Looking for deals and grabbing them when they become available is really being an opportunist and saving money. As long as the place you are staying in is clean and safe, every dollar you save is another dollar you can spend somewhere else on your travels. taking advantage of spontaneous trips and deals adds spice to your life vs. the rigid approach of being on a bus and in specific hotels every night.

The Skeptics are Stuck at Home

There will be many skeptics and mainly those that are stuck at home, afraid to travel or unwilling to stretch their money so they can get away and travel. They may not even be able to fathom how you can travel the way that you do, because unless you have been there and done it, they just refuse to accept it. Secretly they are envious and wish they were with you but just cannot bring themselves to follow in your foot steps. Try to take a 4 month vacation every year, watch your spending and enjoy life.

Be Flexible

For example one friend of ours will only travel by car if he has reservations made for his entire trip. He needs to know exactly where he will be each night and how much he is paying along with what restaurants there are to choose from. We on the other hand, only decide where we are staying that evening when we pull into a motel or hotel. Sometimes we have been caught with a less than desirable location with few restaurants to choose from, but that just adds to the excitement of the journey.

We also do not take unnecessary chances or go to dangerous places. Sure we go to places that might be uncomfortable sometimes and only stay for one night. This happens by chance rather than by choice and we try to avoid them whenever possible. Common sense goes a long way: Don’t flaunt expensive electronics or jewelry; learn a few phrases of the local language; be polite and cautious with strangers; don’t wander the streets drunk late at night. Odds are you’ll be in no more danger than a similar situation in your hometown.

Work While You Travel

Some folks work while they travel and this also covers some of the cost of travel. If you can write a story about where you are and make some money from it, so much the better. If you can work on a contract while traveling with your computer and smart phone, why not. As long as it is only a few hours a day or week and does not interfere with your travel enjoyment, you have the best of both worlds.

You only live once so why not enjoy yourself and stretch your dollars as far as possible rather than spend a lot of money on expensive hotels and meals, which limits the amount of time you can be on the road.

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All Inclusive Resorts in Puerto Vallarta

September 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

All Inclusive Resorts in Puerto VallartaWe cannot understand why anyone really would want to go to all inclusive resorts in Puerto Vallarta. It is not because they are not nice places to go. They are extremely great places to go especially if you want to go somewhere and be pampered, not worry about a thing and not even be concerned about where you are going to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

We have been to all inclusive resorts in Puerto Vallarta and they are very nice. The grounds were great, the food was excellent, the pool was heated and clean and it was an extremely enjoyable thing to do. But for us by the end of the week we were getting a little bored. We wanted to get out and explore, talk to some of the locals, go to one of the bars and try a more authentic restaurant. We also wanted to go exploring to other villages.

Resorts in Puerto Vallarta – Going Out

The trouble is in Mexico you must be very careful especially when traveling in certain areas. We stay in Puerto Vallarta and toured around to many of the small villages on Banderas bay. There are many quaint little towns that offer beautiful restaurants, beaches and parks to enjoy. Nothing better than have a few beers on the beach and then being served fresh Mexican food right on the beach under a palapa.

We took the buses mainly to get around. This gets us away from the all inclusive resorts in Puerto Vallarta to explore the area. We were able to visit the small towns, the shops in these towns and to sample some of the tequila that many places offer. Some stores offer their patrons a shot of tequila to sip while they are shopping for some of their products.

We once visited a jewelry store that served tequila in the back of the store to all of the patrons that visited their store and spent some time there. We think they just wanted to loosen us up so we would spend more money and it probably works. The tequila was ok, not really great or really bad. It was a nice touch to be provided something different.

For many more posts about vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, click here.

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Earth’s Population in Perspective

July 28th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Earths's populationThis is a really interesting story that puts earth’s population in perspective. If you could fit the entire Earth’s Population into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of

  • 57 Asians
  • 21 Europeans
  • 14 Americans (North, Central and South)
  • 8 Africans

There would be:

  • 52 women and
  • 48 men
  • 30 Caucasians and
  • 70 non-Caucasians
  • 30 Christians and
  • 70 non-Christians
  • 89 heterosexuals and
  • 11 homosexuals

6 people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA

80 would live in poverty  70 would be illiterate 50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition 1 would be dying 1 would be being born 1 would own a computer

1 (yes, only one) would have a university degree

Earth’s Population – Understanding

If we looked at the Earth’s Population in this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious.

But, consider again the following :

If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won’t live through the week.

If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.

If you can go to your place of worship without fear that Someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion (that’s right) people.

If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world’s population.

If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you’re a rare individual.

If someone sent you this message, you’re extremely lucky,

Because someone is thinking of you and because you don’t comprise one of those 2 billion people who can’t read.

and so?

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like nobody has ever hurt you. Dance like nobody is watching. Sing like nobody is listening. Live as if this was paradise on Earth.

Send this message to your friends.

Bypass those who are determined to see the worst in the world no matter what. If you don’t send it, nothing will happen. If you do send it, someone might smile while they are reading it, and that will be a positive.

AND APART FROM THAT, SIMPLY HAVE A NICE DAY

Author Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Palm Springs Rental

July 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Palm Springs RentalThere is no doubt that Palm Springs and really all of the valley towns derive their lively hood from  tourists. Vacation rentals of homes, condo’s and of course hotels / motels provide many places to stay. During the spring Palm Springs Rental traffic swells the city to at least double its normal size.  All of the snowbirds that are in town for the season take up many rooms. You can literally see the difference in the amount of people in the city after March 31st. The majority of the snow birds leave town at this time.

Palm Springs Rental – Rent Hotels, Homes or Condos

They stay in a variety of locations. Many will rent condo’s or homes for the season, while some will only come to the city to visit for a couple of weeks and live in one of the thousands of motels that are within a 5 block walking distance of down town Palm Springs. There are lots of homes and condo’s all over the city, some in gated communities that are some distance from the down town area and require a car to visit everything from shopping for groceries to going out for the weekend.

We have stayed in the Palm Springs area for many years during the winter and strongly recommend that visitors try to find a place within walking distance of local shopping and restaurants. You do not need to be concerned about drinking and driving and it can be much more pleasant to go for a walk in the evening and visit the downtown area of Palm Springs.

Gated Communities in Palm Springs

There are lots of golf courses in the area and many have gated communities surrounding them. They are quiet and serene, however you must always get in your car to pretty much do anything. Some come with golf courts and these can be used also for short trips. We suggest that you think about the type of lifestyle that you would prefer and then book a place for the time you will be in Palm Springs that fits your type of lifestyle.

If you are staying for less than a month, homeowners and motels are obligated to charge city tax on the rent payments, while if you stay longer, taxes are not charged and can save a great deal of money for many people. Always negotiate your rental rates. Before you begin, take the time to learn what the going rates are for whatever you plan to rent and then negotiate based on this average rate.

Condo’s and homes have the advantage of being a home away from home. All of the linens, towels, furniture and kitchen utensils are provided. Meals prepared at home can be much less expensive than eating out all of the time. Of course if you are on vacation for only a week, you may decide to eat out more often than someone who is staying for several months.

We hope you enjoy your time in Palm Springs in the condo or rental home that you book.

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Proud to be Canadian

July 2nd, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Proud to be CanadianWe saw this email and just had to include it here on our blog because we are Proud to be Canadian. Not sure who the writer is, but whoever it was he did a good job! This represents the English side of Canada. There may be something like this hanging around for our french contingent. If there is, let us know and send it along. We would be happy to include it on this blog.

Proud to be Canadian – You May Be From Canada If…….

You’re not offended by the term, “Homo Milk.”

You understand the phrase, “Could you pass me a serviette, I just dropped my poutine, on the chesterfield.”

You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.

You drink pop, not soda.

You know what a Mickey and 2-4 mean.

You don’t care about the fuss with Cuba. It’s a cheap place to go for your holidays, with good cigars.

You know that a pike is a type of fish, not part of a highway.

You drive on a highway, not a freeway.

You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.

You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group.

You get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.

You brag to Americans that: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion and many more are Canadians.

You know that the C.E.O. of American Airlines is a Canadian!

You know what a touque is.

You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced “Zed” not “Zee”.

Your local newspaper covers the national news on two pages, but requires six pages for hockey.

You know that the four seasons mean: almost winter, winter, still winter, and roadwork.

You know that when it’s 25 degrees outside, it’s a warm day.

You understand the Labatt Blue commercials.

You know how to pronounce and spell “Saskatchewan.” (Sas-Kat-chew-wan)

You perk up when you hear the theme song from “Hockey Night in Canada.”

You were in grade 12, not the 12th grade.

“Eh?” is a very important part of your vocabulary and more polite than, “Huh?”

You actually understand these jokes and forward them to your Canadian friends! Then you send them to your American friends just to confuse them…further.

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Travel Tips for Busy Parents

June 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Travel Tips for Busy ParentsWe have traveled a lot over the years. Travel Tips for Busy Parents will help you prepare for your next trip. We have found that there are a number of steps you can take to make your travel more enjoyable and a lot less stressful. This post is an attempt to help other people who love to travel. They want to be organized and enjoy their trips at the same time without feeling the need to take a huge amount of clothing, or have problems with lost luggage etc. This is our list of Travel Tips for Busy Parents and what works for us. If you feel that some additional items should be added, feel free to leave us a comment. We will be happy to add your item to the list if it makes sense for travelers. Here we go:

Travel Tips for Busy Parents

Keep the wardrobe simple – pick one or two colors and stick with that for your tops and bottoms. Mix and match so there is something different every day and only take enough business clothes for five days. Most hotels have a cleaning service if you need that. Take two days of casual clothes as well and then rotate your clothes to keep looking your best. If you feel you need something more, a quick trip to a shopping store can usually do the trick.

Call home – and send text messages to your kids and spouse. Try to have quick catch up calls with your family in the morning and evening. Don’t forget they are usually on a schedule as well with school and work as well as activities.

Adapt to Local Time – stick with the local time and adjust your sleep pattern to the whatever time zone you are in. the first night may be difficult, but then you will be better for it as the week goes on.

Make use of WiFi – use your smart phone and WiFi to keep up with emails and home office / customer requirements as well as emails from the family.  It is amazing how many emails you can go through while standing inline for the elevator or waiting for your colleagues to arrive. Make use of your time and be efficient with emails. Same thing in airports or other places where you may find yourself waiting for someone or some thing such as an airline or train.

Fly early or very late – Red eyes are great, especially if you can sleep on the plane. You get home early to see your family and you can still spend a full day at work. Fly early to allow for meetings in the late morning or early afternoon at your destination.

Use Carry On – even if you have to check a bag, always take carry on and always make sure you have everything you need in your carry on for at least one days worth. If they lose your bag or it is late, you can still complete your schedule without having to wear the same things for twos days in a row and you have your toiletries with you.

Do not use energy Drinks – they can keep you up at night and make adapting to a new time zone more difficult .

Plan your trip – avoid leaving everything to the last minute. Make sure your schedule is well planned and all reservations that are needed are finalized. There is nothing that wastes time more than scrambling to get ready for a trip.

Emergencies – will occur and our motto is as long as we have our passports, money  and tickets, we can usually adapt and / or replace whatever we need.

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Drury Inn Springfield Missouri

June 14th, 2013 ernie Posted in Reduce Travel Costs No Comments »

Drury Inn Springfield MissouriTonight we are staying at the Drury Inn Springfield Missouri,. If you’re not familiar with the Drury Inns, they are a very nice hotel chain mainly in the southwest and northeast of the United States. They offer normally fantastic prices for a hotel room, they also offer a hot breakfast and the best feature is the kickback hour or happy hour in the evening.

This includes three drinks beer, wine, and liquor plus a hot bar food that includes chicken fingers, pasta, potatoes, chips, popcorn, soup, and salad.

Drury Inn Springfield Missouri – Price

All of this for a price that is less than the normal price that you would pay at a Hampton Inn, or the Holiday Inn express. We strongly recommend that you look at the Drury Inn this as an alternative for your travel reservations. You can save the price of a dinner meal just in the hotel room reservation alone by eating at their kickback hour and enjoying a few drinks.

If you really do not want to eat at the Drury Inn, they seem to always have a local bar next door. It is usually one of the chain bars / restaurants where you can get a decent meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

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Tipping for Valet Parking

May 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Tipping No Comments »

Tipping for Valet Parking

Have you ever used the valet parking services at hotels or other venues that offer such services? Many people have and most are more than satisfied with the service. You have the convenience of not having to find a place to park your car, deal with the weather if it is out door parking and also the cold if it happens to be winter time. We have used these services quite a few times and usually were satisfied with the service. We would tip $5 for the service and felt that our car would be parked in a safe place and would be returned to us in the same condition that we found it in.

In every case but one it came back in exactly the same condition. In the one instance that it did not, we feel that it was no fault of the parking attendant, however we really cannot be sure. We will discuss each of these instances which has led us to never allow valet parking attendants to park our car ever again.

Valet Parking – Experience

The first instance actually did not involve our car at all. We were waiting for our car to be brought up to us so that we could leave the place we had spent an nice evening at. As we watched other cars being delivered to other people we noticed that the attendants would bring the cars up from underground, turn left and then have to drive about a 1000 feet to where everyone was standing. We watched them rev the engine and roar up to the pickup point. Much too fast in our opinion to be actually unsafe and they were revving an engine that was still cold. Not the way I want my car to be treated.

Another situation that we encountered involved our car being dropped off at a major hotel. We assumed that it would be stored in covered garage which was protected and inspected from a security perspective. They drove it to an open parking lot and left it unprotected in any way. Now the car would not start the next morning due to mechanical problems, which we subsequently resolved, however I wonder how a perfectly good car could suddenly develop mechanical problems!

New Orleans Valet Service

The last example was in New Orleans and I really did not have a choice as to using valet. There was no self parking nearby. The car came back to us in one piece, no damage and everything that was in the car was still there. The service was definitely worth it in this case. What I am objecting to was that the attendant was well over 300 pounds and I was worried whether my seats in my car would sag due to the weight.

In all cases, these three above and those that we have not discussed, we had to wait a long time to get our car. It was busy, but then I really do not want to wait 30 minutes in one case to get a car that I could have just parked myself and got to it in five minutes. So I really do not want to tip valet parking attendants for poor service.

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Tesla Roadster

May 10th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle No Comments »

Tesla RoadsterTesla Roadster seen in Palm Springs , owned by a Canadian who plans to drive it back to Vancouver. It requires a charge every 245 miles and does 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds! This is one of the hottest most talked about cars available and Tesla stock is also skyrocketing. I was able to see this car and talk to the owner. Who needless to say was very proud of his car. It is a very hot looking car. This car has all of the luxuries and form fit that you would expect of a car costing $245,000!

Tesla Roadster – Charging

The owner admitted that it is a great car for commuting every day and has more than enough battery power to handle almost all commuting needs. He has some concern about driving it to Vancouver from California and is planning his trip around recharging stations and locations where he can plug-in and top up his batteries.

More and more charging stations are being added every month so this problem will gradually be eliminated. In addition instead of sitting around for a couple of hours while the battery is charged, there is another solution. Tesla batteries can be swapped out in a matter of minutes. You can be on your way in much the same time as it would take to fill up a normal car with gas.

We sincerely hope that this is the way of the future and that these cars eventually come in a cheaper version that the average consumer can afford.

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Tipping Valet Parking

May 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle No Comments »

Tipping Valet Parking

Tipping Valet Parking attendants has always been problematic for me from the perspective of how much to charge and whether I should even use them. We have had some less than satisfactory service over the years and now unless I have no choice I refuse to give my car up to the valet attendant.  We will discuss some of these issues in a moment, but back to the main topic, tipping valet parking attendants and how much you should give them. I have been typically tipping $5 each time I use valet parking. Some people may offer more and the attendants will certainly take it. But why should you tip these guys at all and will you get good service.

Some people feel that you should tip up front to make sure that you get good service and they take care of your car when they park your car. Others feel that since they pool the tips you are better off to tip when the car comes back in one piece and they open the doors and help you with your suitcases. Still other groups feel that since they are on a minimum wage and make all of their income from tips that you should feel sorry for them and tip them more than you might otherwise.

Tipping Valet Parking – Poor Service

I have had valet parking attendants roar up to the drop off point gunning the engine and while helping with the bags having their hands out for the tip. It is almost as if they don’t want to give you your keys back until they get their tip. Now I have never had any obvious damage done to my car and it is usually delivered in a reasonable amount of time. But I am totally turned off when they drive my car too fast in an almost out of control situation. Take care of my car and treat it with respect!

Based on this sort of activity I am very reluctant to ever give up my car to an attendant. I have an average car, but it is my car and I bought and paid for it. I do not want anyone to damage it. Can you imagine what they would do if it was a hot expensive car. Some of these guys would take it for a joy ride for sure.

The other thing that bugs me is taking a really long time to deliver my car. Sure it depends on how busy they are, but I could have probably gone and got it myself in less time that what some of these guys can get it for. I also want the parking lot to be covered and my car protected from the elements. It should be secure and regular security patrols should be in place. One time my car was parked in an open parking lot along with everyone else’s cars. What am I paying for? I can do that myself for free and I will get some exercise walking into the hotel.

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Village Pub Palm Springs

February 28th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travel No Comments »

Village Pub Palm SpringsAt the Village Pub Palm Springs, the beer is cheap during happy hour, $2.00 for draft beer all day long, except after 7pm on most nights when it gets busy unless you go upstairs to the bar. The atmosphere is also ok with subdued lights, fire pits and heaters to keep you warm outdoors on cool evenings. Yes, it can get quite cool in the desert and you may need to actually dress warmer in the winter time. This location has existed in Palm Springs for many years and always seems to be busy with people dropping in all the time for a beer and something to eat. It is located at the extreme south end of the downtown core of Palm Springs. In fact it is the last major pub on the street and I guess that is why it has to compete a little harder for customers, but the deals are well worth it.

Village Pub Palm Springs – Menu Items

Some items are ok, but then again it depends on the chef that evening. The nacho’s are not good at all and are priced way too high at $8.00. Little cheese, few jalapenos and not many olives. Stay away from this item on the menu!

The Atmosphere is pretty good, with heaters to keep you warm if you are sitting outside on their open air patio. The service is not bad either, about what you might expect for a pub. It gets pretty busy around happy hour, so if you want a table outside, you will have to get there early!

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Tips for Restaurant Servers

January 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Tipping 2 Comments »

Tips for Restaurant ServersThis topic, tips for restaurant servers, is a really contentious topic. Most people leave tips at restaurants and many leave the standard 15% whether they are happy with the service or the food. They just do not want the hassle of dealing with a server who might show their annoyance because of a low tip. We know people in the industry and they are adamant that you should always leave a tip regardless. The servers rely on this income since they receive minimum wage or no wage at all. Tips can be a huge source of income for these people. The unfortunate thing is that some of these servers, especially the younger ones feel that they are entitled to a large tip regardless of the level of service they provide.

Tips for Restaurant Servers – An Example of Excellent Service

Here is an example of what we mean by really good service. You go to a coffee shop and the server fills your coffee mug and servers it to you at the cash. Should you provide them with a tip when they just did their job and did nothing special? At another coffee shop the server takes a mug, fills it with hot water to warm up the cup, pours the water out and then fills the mug with hot coffee. Should you tip this person? We think that they are very deserving of a tip, much more so than the first server. We always tip the second server and never the first because they also do not even acknowledge their customers, nor do they say thank you ever. Our excellent server will also bring us our coffee to the table if she happens to be busy as well.

Some might argue that if we tipped we might get better service in our example above. In some cases we would but at most coffee shops they are just kids who do not know the first thing about service.

Guidelines for Tipping for Restaurant Servers

We suggest that the following guidelines might be used to help people decide if they should tip and how much. Start with the standard of 15% and if they measure up in terms of service, timeliness of food delivery, attention to your order, follow up in a timely manner to ensure that you have everything to enjoy your meal and provide friendly service they should receive the standard 15% tip.

If you have to wait a long time for your drinks, the food is served cold, they mix the orders up or they are very unfriendly, well I would really consider a much lower tip depending on how poor the service actually was. If they are able to do something special which please your group and is appreciated, then why not tip them more. You might even provide a large tip if you feel that they deserve such a large tip.

Would You Leave a Zero Tip

Not too many people will leave a zero tip. They just do not want to risk the confrontation or potential confrontation. However the service industry needs to understand that they are on the job to provide good friendly service. I believe that we as patrons should treat them in a professional manner. If the service is not great, I think that we should let them know verbally in a nice way and that they still will receive a tip, but a little less than 15%. Next time you dine at that particular restaurant and if the service has not improved, then this is the time to reduce the tip even further.

I always tip the lady that serves me a coffee in a mug that has been pre-warmed with hot water. She is only serving coffee, but she makes sure that her customer receives really great service and a hot cup of coffee every time. That deserves a tip in my mind.

In Canada, there are a lot of people who are in their teens working in the service industry. They are too young to understand what it means to provide great service vs. average service. In the US, I have found in our travels more older people who have made it their profession and take providing good service seriously. They understand that good service directly impacts their incomes and they generally provide great service.

That’s my opinion, let me know if you agree or disagree about tips for restaurant servers. For more thoughts on tipping, click here.

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Googles Driverless Car

January 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Car Travel 1 Comment »

Googles Driverless CarGoogle’s driver less car has been on the road for over 300,000 miles now. A recent update suggests that Google is not in the driver less car business. They are going to focus on the software and not the hard ware. In fact it is several cars that are being tested, but the fact remains they have driven that many miles and apparently without an accident. Well, we heard there was one accident were the human in the car took over control of the car and caused an accident. Now several states have put laws into place that allow driver less cars on the road as long as there is a driver in the car’s driver seat that can take control of the car if needed.

Googles Driverless Car – Other Driverless cars

In addition the major car manufacturers are working on models of their own that can be driven without a driver in control of the car. Just think in a few years the designated driver will no longer be needed. Take me home car and away you go. We are not sure if the laws that have been passed in these states include having a driver that is sober behind the wheel and able to take over if needed. Not sure how that would work, the driver is drunk, the car gets into an accident and who do you charge with causing the accident – the drunk passenger(s), the car, the software maker, the part that failed ?

We believe that they will perfect the driver less car and we will likely accept the notion that you will not need passengers who are able to take over the car if necessary. Remember when there were operators in the elevators. You could not go from floor to floor without an elevator operator running the controls for you. At least they got to talk to people once and awhile.

Will there be Auto Pilots on These Cars

Now let’s imagine you are in Goolgle’s driver less car or one of the other manufacturer’s cars. You are the designated control driver, the person supposed to take over if needed. Does this mean that you must pay attention all of the time so that you can take control based on your judgment or will it be like the auto pilots in planes that sound an alarm to alert you to take control? Sometimes pilots fall asleep while on the job although they are not supposed to. You can bet there will be a lot of people who will be sleeping in these driver less cars. That auto pilot had better be good, reaction time and warning time to alert the pilot.

What Impact will Driver Less Cars have On Supporting Auto Industries

The main assumption is that there will be less accidents with driver less cars. Proper space will be maintained between cars, cars will not run red lights, drivers will not be drunk behind the wheel, and distracted drivers will not cause accidents. Now you can shave, do your makeup, finish breakfast, even talk on the phone and not worry about driving. If this works as planned, there will be a lot less accidents as a result and that will have a direct impact on auto repair industries, such as windshield repair companies, auto body companies and so on.

There will still be accidents since it will be a long time before everyone is in a driverless car and everyone is forced to use the capability, bit it will come once it is demonstrated that these cars do in fact save lives and reduce accidents. Just imagine on a foggy road, were you can barely see the car in front of you. With radar installed, there will be no problem stopping when needed and not hitting the guy in front of you.

How Long Will it Take for Driver Less Cars to be in the Majority

No one really knows at this point, however it will really depend on just how good these cars are when it comes to control and accidents. If the statistics can prove they have less accidents and the insurance companies reward car owners with these cars with lower insurance, and jack up the insurance for people with cars without control penetration of this technology will move quickly.

We think that this will be a hot news story for some time to come and we are excited to watch what happens with the driver less car future.

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