UW Alumni Tours Blog

Archive for the ‘Traveler Information’ Category

New Rules Benefit Airline Passengers

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

New federal consumer protection rules now in effect (as of Aug. 23) give airline passengers more protection regarding bumping, tarmac delays and lost luggage. If you’ve ever lost out on a confirmed flight, or spent hours on the ground at takeoff or landing, or have had to buy new underwear because your checked bag was lost, take heart. These new rules speak to you. Learn more about them in this Seattle Times column.

Loving Laos

Friday, August 12th, 2011

LaosThis month’s Conde Nast Traveler serves up an evocative portrait of local life in Laos, a country whose war-torn history, dotted with political repression, is giving rise to a new dawn.

In his article, enticingly titled “Loving Luang Prabang,” writer David Ebershoff paints a country fast embracing the future while retaining centuries-old traditions; a country where saffron-robed Buddhist monks still pad the early-morning streets for daily alms, but where, too, economic progress enables some market vendors to accept all manner of currency (euro, yuan, yen) except the U.S. dollar.

Luang Prabang is one of several destinations on our Treasures of the Mekong Delta tour in January. This two-week cruise along the Mekong River combines the highlights of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos on one itinerary, where we’ll explore lively cities, religious monuments and fascinating cultures. Consider coming with us.

The 100 Worst U.S. Flights

Friday, August 5th, 2011

The Wall Street Journal reports that nearly half (40 out of 100) of the country’s most-delayed flights begin or end in Newark. The worst offender: a Newark-to-Atlanta Delta Air Lines flight that generally makes the 745-mile trip in an hour and 40 minutes needed about four hours to make the trip 60% of the time. Ouch! My business-traveling cousin lives in Randolph, N.J., and frequently flies in and out of Newark’s Liberty International Airport: I wonder if she knows this?

Delays matter whether you’re going to New York, Washington, D.C., or just about anywhere, really, because flight backups spill across the country and create a domino effect, building up and getting worse as the day wears on, the WSJ says. Read more

Got a delayed-flight story to share? Don’t be shy. Tell us about your worst late-arriving nightmare.

Tips for Traveling During Ramadan

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Sweets for breaking Ramadan fast

A vendor in Dhaka, Bangladesh, sells traditional sweets for breaking the Ramadan fast. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)

As of Monday, Aug. 1, we’re in the time of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which, among other things, participating Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This religious observance lasts 29 to 30 days and teaches lessons of patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God.

So what does Ramadan mean for travelers? If you’re headed to a country with a predominantly Muslim population this August these five tips will help you navigate your way to a happy Ramadan.

Plus: Find out why the traditional Ramadan greeting is causing such a stir this year.

Machu Picchu…Don’t Get Turned Away!

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Machu PicchuLast week, hundreds of unticketed tourists were turned away at Machu Picchu, Peru’s famed Inca ruins, because of overcrowding, according to this story in the Seattle Times.

In 2005, Peru fixed a daily limit of 2,500 visitors to the archaeological site to lessen the impact on the environment. Now visitors are advised to get tickets in advance if they want to guarantee their entry.

Getting tickets isn’t a problem for UW Alumni Tours travelers. “We stay in a hotel that’s right inside Machu Picchu,” says UW Alumni Tours Assistant Director Susan Cathcart. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge where our group overnights is located just 20 yards from the entrance to the ruins, giving UW travelers a rare opportunity to visit Machu Picchu long after the daytime tourists leave. “it’s incredible to see the ruins at sunrise,” Susan adds.

We’ve got two departures heading to Machu Picchu & the Galapagos in 2012, one in February and again in May. Learn more 

Travel with the ‘World’s Best’

Friday, July 29th, 2011

 Odysseys Unlimited has been named one of Travel + Leisure’s top tour operators and safari outfitters for 2011. The award, determined by reader votes and a panel of judges, recognizes travel companies based on their staff and guides, itineraries, destinations, activities, accommodations, food and value. This is the fifth time Odysseys Unlimited has earned a spot on Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” list.

Provincial French Countryside

Provincial French Countryside

UW AA Tours is thrilled to have Odysseys Unlimited as one of our longtime tour operators. Next year, we’re sponsoring about 15 Odysseys trips to a variety of destinations including France, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Turkey and more. It’s great to be able to say that when you book an Odysseys tour through us, you’re traveling with one of the “World’s Best.” Congratulations Odysseys Unlimited!

Witness to History…Or, Don’t Go There?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Escorts in Egypt

In Egypt, armed escorts accompany travelers.

This past January, UW Alumni Tours hosted a tour to Egypt at precisely the moment when that country embarked on revolutionary change. For 19 UW travelers anticipating the wonder of the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings, becoming eyewitnesses to history was an abrupt addition to the itinerary.

So… what it was like? We’ve got a round-up of firsthand accounts from folks who were there, including UW Alumni Tours Assistant Director Susan Cathcart, her fellow travelers and two UW professors. All vividly recall 12 days that changed the course of history in the Middle East. We’ve got articles, interviews, videos, photos and a look at what’s happening in Egypt today. Check out our Egypt page now.

We’re going back to Egypt in 2012. It probably won’t be historic, but it’s bound to be a lot of fun.

Our return, however, begs the question: With recent turmoil in unexpected places, along with natural disasters that strike without warning, is there ever a perfect time to travel? And where, exactly, does one go?

Travel writer Paul Theroux explores the issue in this New York Times article from April.

Portrait of Italy: What’s Your Best Memory?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

What will be your best, long-lasting memory about the trip?”

Portrait of Italy, April 30-May 16, 2011

That’s what we asked returning travelers from our late-April Portrait of Italy tour: a 17-day excursion that roamed up and down the boot from Venice to Amalfi, with stops in Rome, Naples, Florence and more. That’s a lot of ground to cover in a short time, but our group was game. And more than a few highlights came to mind afterward:

“Gazing over the peaceful Tuscan countryside in the cool of the morning from the patio of Villa Lecchi. Of course seeing David and the Sistine Chapel were anticipated highlights, and the enjoyable walk through Pompeii with Nicola’s subtly amusing narration was an unexpected delight.”

“The beautiful little villages of Umbria and Tuscany and seeing them both with new UW friends.”

“Seeing the Michelangelo sculptures and frescos that we read about before the trip, as well as the warm and welcoming feeling we got from the Italian people.”

“Our tour guide, Mauro. Great personality, wonderful sense of humor. (He) took great care of everyone. …We learned a lot of history and many new Italian words. Does he lead other tours?”

“Seeing the Pieta at St. Peter’s.”

“Villa Lecchi.  This was so lovely and peaceful; my favorite place on the trip. The best memory would be the people on the tour, and all they brought to the group.”

“For John it was seeing the Colosseum. For Judy, the view from Villa Lecchi with the umbrella pines and poppies in the fields.”

If Italy sounds like your cup of tea, we’ve got other great tours coming up: Chianti & Italian Riviera; Flavors of Northern Italy; Southern Italy & Sicily; and Italian Reflections.