Traveling Lighter: Results

I spent, what was essentially a long weekend in Portland, and decided to make this my first trip where I ditched my rolling carry-on for a backpack. The results: I'm very, very glad I made the switch.

The Costs (and Potential Costs) of Flying to NYC During a Blizzard

On Sunday night, I got an email from United Airlines to let me know that my Tuesday evening flight to Newark had pre-emptively been canceled due to Blizzardy Storm Juno.

Around the World on $80 a Day

$7 for a double room with private bathroom (cold shower) and overhead fan. Geckos are free of charge.

Traveling Lighter

And then I found the Mother Lode.

Have a Terrible Time Traveling? Good! You’re Supposed To

The New Yorker is as angry as that sedate, patrician magazine gets in this screed about the state of the travel industry, specifically airlines, and how their intent is to make us deliberately miserable:

The fees have proved a boon to the U.S. airlines, which will post a projected twenty-billion-dollar profit in 2014. To be fair, airlines are not just profiting because of fee income. Reduced competition, thanks to mergers, helps. There is also the plummet in the price of oil, which the airlines seem to have collectively agreed is no reason to reduce fares or even remove “fuel surcharges.” But for the past decade it is fees that have been the fastest-growing source of income for the main airlines, having increased by twelve hundred per cent since 2007. …

the fee model comes with systematic costs that are not immediately obvious. Here’s the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as “calculated misery.” Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins.

Extortion! Sadly, even longtime holdout (and my up-to-this-point favorite airline) JetBlue is in getting in on the action. 

Following Soccer Around Europe on $20 a Day

The Eurocup is just like the World Cup, but without all those "soccer is my religion" South American teams adding to the competition. In the summer of 2008, I took the standard solo trip around Western Europe, staying in a combination of hostels, couches, and dusty German hardwood floors. The dollar was at an all time low against the Euro, and I was on a budget of about $20 a day—so most of my experiences involved cheap beer, street food and wandering around looking for free tourist attractions. But one way I was able to break out of the American "backpacking through Europe" cliché and experience some bona fide culture was to join in with the locals in every country to root their national soccer team on to victory as the Eurocup unfolded on just about every screen on the continent. On Thursday I might be an avid fan of the Spanish and their incredible ball possession skills, but when my train rolled in to Paris I was raving about the French defense.

Taking a Different Flight in Exchange for a Voucher

On changing your travel plans in exchange for a voucher.

The Economics of Reclining Seats During Flights

During my flight home, the passenger in front of me turned around and mumbled something, and when I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you," the passenger across the aisle from her said: "She asked you if it would be okay for her to recline her seat."

The Cost of a Solo Trip to Montreal

I chose Montreal because I could get there by train: the trip is scenic in its own right, winding up through the Hudson Valley and traveling parallel to Lake Champlain.