Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Great American

kjAmerica is big. Life is short. And whether you’re the kind of traveler who strays off the beaten path or one who hits the biggest damn tourist trap no matter the number of selfie sticks, you have to admit that some places across this great land of ours absolutely MUST be visited before you die. Even if you’re not starring in a buddy movie with Morgan Freeman.

But where are they? And what should you do when you get there? From national parks and monuments, to baseball stadiums, beaches, and amazing road trips, we narrowed down the most iconic, popular, beautiful, historic, fun, delicious, awe-inspiring (should we go on?) parts of the country to 50 must-do places/activities. And while, sure, some are obvious and others may be a little cliche — they’re all still distinctly, 100% America. Now, how many have you ticked off your list?

Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston

Even if you fell asleep repeatedly in history class, walking this 2.5-mile path (just follow the red-brick line!) that passes 16 historical landmarks — from Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church to Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution — is a must for any American. Just don’t forget to stop at the Union Oyster House, one of Boston’s oldest restaurants, along the way.

Compare Philly cheesesteaks from old rivals Geno’s and Pat’s

Team Geno’s, just saying. Although, yes, we know there are A LOT of places to get a great cheesesteak in Philly, which is why we put together this neighborhood guide.

atch a Broadway Show in New York City

If you can’t score Hamilton tickets (don’t worry, pretty much no one can), hit up the TKTS booth in Times Square for same-day discounted show seats to something; then take your obligatory “NYC baby!” selfie and get the hell out of there. Trying to tackle all of New York’s greatness is like trying to keep up with every new dating app, it’s damn near impossible. Concentrate on the biggies: eat a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and stroll through SoHo and Greenwich Village.

Drive Cape Cod to Provincetown in the summer

Yes, there’s a lot you don’t understand about the Cape, but that’s exactly why you should see it all. From the Bourne Bridge to the Chatham Light (and the Squire!), Truro’s vineyards to the the Cape Cod National Seashore, plan to eat lobster rolls along the way at one of these waterside spots, stop for a drink at the Beachcomber in Wellfleet, and end the night strolling around Provincetown.

The Airport Scams You Can Avoid Now

For many travelers, their journey begins and ends at the airport – making it a comfortable and familiar place where guards may be dropped. With signs are printed in multiple languages and police officers posted in high traffic areas, many travelers feel safe and secure while waiting at the airport.

However, travelers aren’t the only ones who feel at home at the airport. Scam artists also feel a sense of security while visiting different departure points, looking for unknowing travelers to target. As a result, smart scam artists and pickpockets have found ways to part travelers from their valuables without their knowledge. When a traveler lets their guard down even for a moment, it can result in the loss of wallets, passports, and even luggage.

Prior to arrival, every traveler needs to make sure they stay safe from pickpockets and other scam artists. Here are three common scams every traveler needs to watch out for at the airport.

Airport security checkpoint scams result in lost luggage

It is no secret that airport luggage theft is a problem in airports around the world.

From unscrupulous security officers stealing from luggage, to items being stolen directly from the carousel, luggage theft is a threat to anyone who passes through the airport.

One of the most common attacks on travelers involves a team of thieves looking for victims at the security checkpoint. Much like a bottleneck pickpocketing attack, an airport security check scam starts when a traveler sends their luggage through the x-ray machine. Once it’s through, another traveler will often cut in front of the line and intentionally set off the metal detector or body scanner. The alert causes a temporary pause in the line, allowing an accomplice to steal luggage on the other side of the security checkpoint.

In order to prevent becoming a victim of this scam, travelers should stay with their luggage until they are next to go through the metal detector or scanner. Only then should they allow luggage to pass through the x-ray machine. Those are stopped by security personnel for additional screening can ask that their luggage be held at the checkpoint until they can claim it.

Airport pickpockets target passengers at the carousel

When a flight arrives at its final destination, most travelers immediately congregate around the luggage carousel to retrieve checked luggage. Although carousel theft is a problem, smart scam artists are looking less at the luggage and paying more attention to the passengers.

The airport pickpockets strike as tired and jetlagged passengers huddle around the luggage carousels focusing on the bags, and not other passengers. When travelers drop their focus the pickpockets will utilize a “bump,” where they seem to accidentally run into a passenger. As a result, the pickpocket leaves with a traveler’s wallet or documents, leaving the traveler unaware they have become a victim until it is too late.

Much like any crowded place, the best thing travelers can do is stay alert of their surroundings. Those who keep their head up and focused on those around them are less likely to be singled out as a target.

Airport taxi scams prey upon tourists

After an overnight flight heading east, travelers may have no bigger want than to go straight to their hotel for some needed rest and jet lag recovery. After clearing customs and retrieving luggage, the next step is finding a way to get to the hotel. While some hotels offer shuttle service to and from the airport, others require a taxi ride – which is an easy way for travelers to get in trouble.

Most airports will offer an official taxi stand for licensed transport. However, scam artists will still solicit travelers directly, offering discounted ground transportation. The result can range from being taken for a long ride, to being taken to the wrong hotel entirely.

Unlicensed taxi services are not only illegal, but can be incredibly dangerous. Travelers who are solicited for an illegal ride should immediately walk away and either use the services provided by the airport, or book another form of ground transportation.

Even at the airport, scam artists and thieves are looking to take advantage of international travelers. By staying aware and alert of their situations, travelers can make sure they stay safe at both arrival and departure.

Small Cruises For An Offbeat Voyage

For some travelers, bigger isn’t always better. If you’re looking to take a cruise trip but don’t want the crowds or the tourist hot spots, you can book a spot on a number of smaller boats that offer a different kind of voyage. There are small cruises for all types of vacations, from super-cozy river rides to yacht-like trips through warm seas. Below, I’ve rounded up four small cruise ships that are worth looking into.

1. Lord of the Glens
Cabins: 26
Destination: Scotland

This small ship brings passengers through the Scottish highlands and coastal islands. Spanning just 150 feet, Lord of the Glens is “uniquely sized to fit through the network of locks and canals that cut through the heart of the Scottish highlands,” according to cruise line Lindblad Expeditions. Once you’re ashore there are bikes provided to explore the Scottish countryside, and there are also kayaks available for paddling on Loch Ness.

Lord of the Glens is actually one of several small cruise ships that Lindblad Expeditions offers with destinations from the Galapagos to the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic

2. UnCruise Safari Endeavour
Cabins: 42
Destinations: Alaska; Sea of Cortez

This small cruise ship has a focus on outdoor adventure. It comes equipped with kayaks, paddle boards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles, snorkel gear and wetsuits. You can also check out marine life with an underwater camera mounted on the bow. All cabins are above deck with views of the voyage.

3. Sagitta
Cabins: 13
Destinations: Various locations in the Caribbean including Grenada and St. Lucia

This motorsailer is “built for comfort and blue water cruising,” according to cruise line Island Windjammers. The focus here is on relaxation, with multiple decks for sunbathing and dining al fresco. All cabins have portholes except two solo cabins located below the main deck.

4. Mekong Sun
Cabins: 14
Destinations: Laos and Thailand

This small wooden boat is designed to navigate to areas along the Mekong River that larger boats could not. Mekong River Cruises boasts that “your experienced captain guides your ship through awe-inspiring gorges, past labyrinths of pristine sandbanks, and confidently navigates turbulent rapids.” The ship’s size allows for sweeping views of the river voyage, while the cruise line focuses on letting passengers choose how they want to spend their time on land.