Independent traveler

Love to travel, but hate tours? This blog offers insight on how to go it alone, from safe accommodations to seeing the best, and maybe the worst. After all, independent travel is an adventure. Flexibility and traveling on a budget are critical. No five-stars or all-inclusives. So hop aboard. Learn to enjoy travel at your own pace and price. Meet other adventurers like yourself and mingle with the locals. Remember: You may travel alone, but you wonʼt be lonely.

The “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico, Pecos National Historical Park. - 9/22/2012 4:27 pm

All border crossings are not created equal... - 8/19/2012 7:58 am

Avoid Interstates, enjoy travel through middle America... - 8/12/2012 6:12 am

Right now is the best time to travel the Alaska Highway. - 8/4/2012 5:45 pm

Fifty Shades of Grey becoming a travel phenomenon. - 7/29/2012 6:46 am

Winners of the annual Independent Traveler Photo Contest... - 7/21/2012 10:00 pm

Independent Traveler photo contest, submit your favorite travel photo here... - 7/1/2012 10:38 am

How to get a good seat on your next flight. - 6/24/2012 9:26 am

Cell phone boarding passes not a joke.

Boarding pass barcode displayed on iPhone.Boarding pass barcode displayed on iPhone.

The airlines are getting even more techie and the call to become more cell phone savvy just went up a notch. Delta Airlines became the latest carrier to begin testing mobile ticketing.

Passengers with an active e-mail account and an Internet enabled cell phone may now get their boarding pass on their phone. No need to check-in at the ticket counter or kiosk for your boarding pass. (If you don’t have checked luggage, of course.)

You can bypass both and go directly to the security check. There you show the agent a cell phone picture of your boarding pass. The agent will swipes the bar code and you are free to proceed. A global standard for boarding pass barcodes has been established.

In the U.S., Continental Airlines led the race in mobile ticketing as the first carrier to use the technology in 2007. American Airlines followed suit in Nov. 08 and recently Delta Airlines joined their ranks.

However, Europe is the leader in mobile ticketing. Germany's Lufthansa Airlines, Spain’s Spanaire Airlines and even lesser known Estonian Airlines are technically astute.

It is estimated that mobile ticketing can save the airline industry a whopping $500 million per year.

Have you tried mobile ticketing. How did it work? Comment below.

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Redoubt's unreliability, begs the question, "Should I buy travel insurance?"

Redoubt is playing havoc with travelers’ plans. Getting stuck is expensive. You can incur costs for overnight accommodations, food and toiletries to get you through. If you’re on vacation and arrive a day or two late, you're talking even more money in lost deposits.

You might want to check out travel insurance (not protection) that can cover many of these costs and more.

You can find various companies on the web. You plug in a few numbers and get a quote to determine if buying a pricy policy is worth it.

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They didn't really ask that did they? Redoubt humor.

There’s gotta’ be a little humor in all this Mt. Redoubt travel stress. Here are a few funnies overheard.

Man stuck in Portland talking to wife in Anchorage on Sat.:

“I’ve been stuck here for two days. I might as well fly to Las Vegas where I can have fun and come back on Wed.”

(I don’t know whose crystal ball he was looking at, but where did he get the advance information on the cessation of Redoubt eruptions?)

Woman asking a flight attendant onboard flight headed to Anchorage that might divert to Fairbanks:

“What are the chances of us getting into Anchorage?”

(Another crystal ball question.)

Man onboard a flight diverted to Fairbanks:

“Do you think I can make the next flight to Anchorage right after we land?”

(Then why did they divert?)

Share any funnies you've heard below.

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Anything goes Sunday. Post travel related comments here.

Following in the style of the DogBlog, here's my first "Anything Goes".

Feel free to comment on anything travel related.

Suggested topic: Mt. Redoubt snafus.

Post your comments below.

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Any firsthand Redoubt travel stories? Stuck in SEA? Post here.

Some flights are getting out of SEA to ANC with a stop in FAI.

Have any stories or firsthand experiences to share with those of us stuck in ANC? Post them in the comment section below.

FYI you can check "tweets" and Alaska Airlines at the following sites:

For Alaska Volcano Observatory, click on AVO.

For Alaska Airline's tweets go to Alaska Airlines.

For Alaska Airlines flight info go to flight status.

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Post Mt. Redoubt travel advisories here...

Please feel free to use this space to post any Mt. Redoubt travel advisories in the comments area below.

Alaska Airlines cancelled several incoming and outgoing flights this morning. Given the favorable wind conditions blowing ash away from Anchorage, they have resumed flights southbound, but not northbound.

If you are flying today, be sure to call your carrier to get the latest update on flight departures.

To share information regarding flights, post your comments below to help keep us all informed.

If you have a photo of Redoubt blowing its top or aftermath, e-mail me at and I will post it in my next blog.

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Hero Sully Sullenberger to write memoir

It’s been over two months since the ill-fated, lucky US Airways flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River. At the helm, was Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who along with his flight crew saved 155 souls from an early departure.

Now bonafided hero Sully has signed a contract with William Morrow imprint HarperCollins to write a memoire and collection of poetry. He is also a bonfided story writer and amateur poet.

The contract is reportedly somewhere between $2.5 million to $3 million.

Now that’s good news. We need a better look at this humble, mild-mannered, gentleman who is definitely a role model. With jerks like Bernie Madoff, AIG executives and heaven knows how many others lurking in the shadows, we need to hear more about real life heroes.

And while I’m at it, I’d personally like to thank all of the airlines’ unsung heroes like captains, first officers and flight attendants who do an incredible job everyday for very little thanks if any.

Next time you fly, how about making it a point to personally thank your cabin crew and the flight deck crew as you pass by the open door of the cockpit when deplaning.

If you would like to thank someone personally, please make a comment below. I know it’s a pain to register, but your comments are appreciated. I thank you in advance.

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TravelFlash: TSA to implement more checks

My favorite agency, The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, short for “Too many Standing Around”, is beefing up its security measures. Beginning this summer, in addition to providing proof of identity, you will be asked your birth date and gender when you buy your ticket. This extra measure is part of the agency’s Secure Flight program.

Interesting. I wondered why until I read the new Secure Flight policy. Currently, the airlines are responsible for matching passengers against TSA watch lists. Now the airlines will only be responsible for collecting the new data from passengers and the TSA will check all data against government watch lists.

Silly me, I thought that’s what the TSA was already doing. How in the world did they expect the carries to do it effectively in the first place with all the other responsibilities they have least of all running their own business.

The TSA has also beefed up random security checks (wanding and opening bags) at gates.

Maybe now instead all agents being stuck at security checkpoints watching and monitoring each other plus getting caught up on American Idol, the agents will be spread out. Hip, hip hurray. It’s about time.

Does anyone out there in cyberspace enjoy checkpoints and think the TSA is doing a great job other than myself. Comment below.

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Upload your spring break photos today

Vacation Photo Gallery

Back to the old grind on Monday? How about making spring break last a little longer by uploading your shots into the Vacation Shots gallery?

It's easy. It's simple. Go to the reader-submitted photo page by clicking here. Scroll down the page to "Vacation Shots" gallery, have a look and then post your own.

You can also click the link just below the title of this blog or go to the right-hand column where you see "Vacation shots", and click the submit link. Wherever you click, you end up in the same spot.

Be sure to tell a little about your photo in the comments.

I'll check them out and possibly we can get the ADN powers that be to feature one on the homepage.

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Do you need an International Driving Permit?

Plan to drive in a foreign county? You may need an International Driving Permit.

A few countries, like Mexico, Canada and England, accept your U.S. license, but many do not. For a list of countries that accept IDPs, go to

The Department of State has a webpage with safety tips for driving in foreign countries. Also check the Department of State's travel warnings.

We were planning a driving trip through Guatemala until we found that tourists were at risk in rural areas. Bandits dressed as the police were stopping vehicles and robbing their passengers.

You can obtain an IDP by mail through the AAA. You can download the application at their website and mail it along with $15 and a photo. Permits are only good for six months after issuance. If more than one person plans to drive, both need IDPs.

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d'earplane hears Alaska Airline paxs irate over weight and balance problems

A good friend returned from LA on Alaska Airlines connecting through Seattle. She was livid! They were delayed out of LA due "weight and balance" problems. Agents asked for eight volunteers to deplane.

She then missed her connection in Seattle and had a six-hour wait. To top that off, her next flight was also delayed by "weight and balance" problems only this time they played musical chairs, moving passengers a total of three times.

When they pushed back the pilot's computer didn't work so they had to return to the gate. She was originally due to arrive in Anchorage at 5pm, but didn't get home until 2am.

Is she the only one? d'earplane hears via the grapevine, not!

Has anyone else had "weight and balance" problems on Alaska Airline flights?

Weigh in below by posting a comment.

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Sunday Travel Feature: Bali, Indonesia, in photos

I am concluding my Bali, Indonesia Sunday Travel Feature with photos. I do believe that pictures can speak louder than words. Hopefully the following photos will fill in some of the blanks from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , and Part 4 of this feature.

Barong DancerBarong Dancer

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Do you need a passport?

A passport is required for entry into many countries.A passport is required for entry into many countries.

If you are traveling abroad this summer, you will need passport. Now is the time to apply for one before the summer rush.

If this is your first passport, you must appear in person to apply. You will need to fill out an application
(download online), provide identification and submitted two passport photos.

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Should New Zealand invite the Bachelor back? Vent here

Hey, it may be a stretch for the Independent Traveler, but I'm fuming over Mr. Mesnick's (Jason) actions on the beautiful island of New Zealand. Breaking a girl's heart (Molly) is one thing, but doing it in New Zealand (that's the travel connection) is another. Then bring it back full circle? What's the man's problem?

What do you think? Are you going to watch next season and travel vicariously to another exotic destination?

Vent here.

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Sunday Travel Feature: Bali, Indonesia, Part 4

Welcome to the Sunday Travel Feature. Unlike the rest of my blog, I am dedicating Sundays to full-length travel stories appearing in sections over consecutive Sundays.

These features are akin to travel articles you might see in magazines or newspapers. They are an opportunity for an in depth look at a destination both in photos and words.

If you happen to click in on part four, you can find parts one, two and three in the list of my posts on the right-hand side of this page.

Bali, Indonesia, Part 4

A peaceful village in the highlands.A peaceful village in the highlands.

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Lost in translation? You gotta see this

On a trip to China. Translated, handicapped bathroomOn a trip to China. Translated, handicapped bathroom

Here's what they were referring to.Here's what they were referring to.

The universal travel language is English, but it isn’t always translated correctly.

The first time we climbed the Great Wall in China light years ago, we were given a certificate that read: “You have mounted the Great Wall of China.”

Really? Didn't notice!

Since then I have witnessed or heard some really strange interpretations of the English language.

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Have you tried onboard WiFi? Post your comments here

As I posted earlier, Alaska Airlines began testing Row 44's onboard Wi-Fi service on its flight out of Seattle to San Jose, CA this afternoon.

Alaska Air joins a cadre of other major carriers that are either offering Wi-Fi on most flights or are testing it on certain segments.

Have you tried any carrier's onboard Wi-Fi service? What was your experience? Comment below.

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TravelFlash: Alaska Airlines begins testing Wi-Fi service today.

Alaska Airlines announced this morning that the carrier will begin testing Row 44's Wi-Fi service on selected flights joining a myriad of other major carriers.

The testing period is 60 days after which the carrier will evaluate the service for offer on other routes. Today's service will begin this afternoon on its Seattle/San Jose, CA route.

Alaska being the major carrier from here to the lower 48 is hoping to gain a competitive advantage over other carriers. But will they?

What do you think? Do you welcome the service or abhor the thought?

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Should airlines charge for non-alcoholic drinks?

Yesterday US Airways announced it will discontinue charging for non-alcoholic drinks as of March 1. Hip, hip hurray!

The airline came under fire when it started charing for non alcoholic beverages in coach and no other carrier followed suit.

In the war of passing higher fuel costs on to fliers, the airlines won when they colluded to charge for an extra bag.

However, US Airways seems to have carried it one step too far by nickel and dimeing passengers for juice, soda, coffee and water. (They are still going to charge for their pillow and blanket "service" however.) Shame on them.

Personally, I think it would make people happier if everything was included in the price of a ticket. What's wrong with the way it was in the old days. Why reinvent the wheel and irritate the heck out of the flying public.

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Sunday Travel Feature: Bali, Indonesia, Part 3

Welcome to the Sunday Travel Feature. Unlike the rest of my blog, I am dedicating Sundays to full-length travel stories appearing in sections over consecutive Sundays.

These features are akin to travel articles you might see in magazines or newspapers. They are an opportunity for an in depth look at a destination both in photos and words.

If you happen to click in on part three, you can find parts one and two in the list of my posts on the right-hand side of this page.

Bali, Indonesia, Part 3
Bali Bagus (beautiful), like this flower.Bali Bagus (beautiful), like this flower.

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