The real reason why Silicon Valley is the world’s most elusive tourist attraction

Silicon Valley draws me to it like a powerful magnet, with its Mediterranean climate, irresistible culture of innovation and iconic technology brands that have defined a generation. It pulls in my whole family, which, like many Americans, lives in a world defined by Apple, Facebook and Google. Read more “The real reason why Silicon Valley is the world’s most elusive tourist attraction”

This summer’s top travel bloopers

From TSA flubs to mass flight delays, airline data hacks to the grounding of a carrier’s entire fleet, some travelers will remember this summer for a melee of industry mishaps. But big businesses aren’t the only ones that make mistakes.
Read more “This summer’s top travel bloopers”

Can this trip be saved? “We feel cheated as tourists”

Before Steven Barlow returned his rental car at Orlando International Airport in December, he did what most rental customers do who are trying to avoid a fuel surcharge: He found a gas station and topped off his tank.

Then he looked at the digital display on the pump at the Suncoast Energies station, which seemed to be moving faster than normal. Then he looked up and saw the prices were nearly twice the going rate for gas in Florida — an incredible $4.89 per gallon.

We could see no signs advertising the price. The clerk told me that they could charge this price as the station was close to the airport, and offered no other reason as to why they didn’t need to advertise. Basically, too bad you stopped and thanks for being stupid and giving us your money.

Read more “Can this trip be saved? “We feel cheated as tourists””

More than ever, the Gulf needs tourists to swim against the tide

No one wants to be called a tragedy tourist. Not Van Badham, a London-based playwright who spends her vacations visiting such places as Ground Zero in New York and Nazi concentration camps in Germany.

“I travel to learn, and witness, and share,” she said. “If it’s bad, I want to know how bad it is.”

Any surprise, then, that the coast of Louisiana — site of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history — is on her “to-do” list? “I will definitely make a point of getting over there when I’m in the U.S. next,” she told me.

As tens of thousands of travelers cancel their beach vacations in the wake of the massive oil spill, a small number of tourists will swim against the tide. Too bad it’s just a small number. If ever there were a time to visit the Gulf Coast, it is now.
Read more “More than ever, the Gulf needs tourists to swim against the tide”

Predatory tourism? Visitor details a “horrible” vacation in Jamaica

negrilHigh crime. Outrageous prices. Fees everywhere.

Jonathan Shelton’s vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, had it all. And he was so upset by it that he fired up his Blackberry at the airport and sent me a missive.

“I was awed by the locals trying to take advantage of tourists at every turn,” he told me. “The whole economy is designed to rake tourists over the leaves.”

Is his experience just another example of predatory tourism, where hotels, tour operators and merchants prey on their own guests? Or was Shelton just unlucky?
Read more “Predatory tourism? Visitor details a “horrible” vacation in Jamaica”