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I probably fly Southwest Airlines three or four times a year, and I’m quite used to their boarding procedures. I hover over my computer keyboard exactly 24 hours before my flight time, timing my “click” to see if I can be one of the first to check in and get one of the first few  “A” boarding passes so that I’ll have the best choice of seats.  But now all that will change.

Southwest has instituted a new “Early Bird” check in procedure that lets travelers buy their place in the online check-in line. For a $10 fee (each way, payable when you purchase the ticket or any time up until 25 hours prior to the flight) you can be assured that Southwest will check you in automatically, 36 hours prior to the flight (and well before the general public gets to check in). While they can’t promise that this will ensure you an “A” boarding pass, it will bump you up in the line and better your chances.

I’m really not sure what I think about the whole thing. On the one hand, it will be a nice convenience for the return leg of a trip. Instead of having to take time out of my vacation to visit the internet cafe on a cruise ship, or wait my turn on the computer in the hotel lobby, I can just purchase the early bird option and trust that I’ll get a good boarding number. But I do think that it’s a slippery slope. For an airline that heavily promotes its “no added fees” stance, I think this sends a conflicting message.

Beside, I kind of like the adrenaline rush of trying to beat the clock and hit “enter” at exactly the right moment 🙂  

What do you think?


Judging from the popularity of sites like TripAdvisor, it’s no secret that people like to read other travelers’ first-hand reviews of hotels.  A review is even more valuable, though, when you actually know the person who is writing it, which is why I like to share my clients’ reviews here on the blog when I can.

The note below is from a client who just returned from a quick romantic weekend at the Liberty Hotel in Boston:

It was AWESOME!! The hotel is beautiful, interesting architecturally, and the history made it even cooler. Our room was large. We were on the 15th floor (of 16), and our city view was spectacular. Every single person who works there is friendly and polite, but not over the top. The location is also perfect. You walk out the front door and right onto the MGH/Charles St stop on the Red Line.  Harvard Square is three stops away in one direction and Park St (with a change to the Green Line) is two stops in the other direction.  

Talk about hip. The place was totally packed at night. It seems like it is one of THE places to be seen in Boston. The bars and restaurants spill into the lobby. Fun.

We will go back there as soon as we possibly can. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your help!

Just posted a new travelogue about my road trip to PEI last month.  The trip report is here.  My photos are here.

To me, the island is a cross between Ireland (or what I imagine Ireland to be, since I have not made it there yet) and one of the quaint New England islands like Nantucket or Block Island. Absolutely beautiful!


Are you looking for more out of your next vacation than a suntan?

More and more travelers (of all ages, shapes and sizes) are seeking out active vacations where they can really experience a destination first-hand. Dissatisfied with simply laying on a beach for a week, they’re pursuing a long-time passion like hiking or biking, or else getting out and crossing new things off their “bucket list” — trying zip-lining, kayaking, hot-air ballooning, and more.


If this sounds like the kind of vacation that you might enjoy, then don’t miss my upcoming Webinar — Adventure Travel 101. I’m teaming up with Lori Carr, founder of Tomgirl Tours, to present a free 45-minute webinar that explains what aventure travel is, who takes these kinds of trips, and what you should consider if you’re planning your own adventurous getaway.

The Webinar takes place at 7 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, September 23rd, and all you need to tune in is a phone and a computerwith internet access. To sign up, just follow this link.

For those who have never cruised, and who resist trying it, one of the main reasons given is the fear of gaining weight while on board.

Now, I don’t want to validate that fear, since it’s certainly possible to counteract a little overindulgence by using the fitness facilities and taking the stairs instead of the elevators, but I will say that the dining experience is one of the big draws for many cruisers — myself included!  So it’s interesting to see how shipboard dining is evolving these days.

A recent article in the Miami Herald does a good job of summarizing some of the changes and explaining the new options available — including standard dining, “My Time dining”, in-cabin dining, specialty restaurants, and more. Suffice it to say that today’s cruise ships offer something for everyone, from the traditionalist who likes a set time and table with white glove service… a free spirit who wants to eat pizza at 3 a.m.

My advice? Talk to a travel professional who can match you with the right cruise line, with the right dining options to meet your “tastes”.  And skip those elevators rather than skipping dessert!

September 2009
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