Val’s Valise

Why TPA Is The Best U.S. Airport And Getting Better

By Valarie D’Elia Located in the heart of a quintessential Florida tourism area, Tampa International Airport (TPA) served as Walt Disney World’s airport before Orlando International Airport (MCO) was built. Opened in 1971, TPA was designed on the premise that no passenger should be more than 700 steps from their car to the gate. To that end, it employs a network of monorail style trains, (the first airport in the world to have “people movers,” ) which are rumored to be the precursor to those at Disney. A frequent visitor to Florida’s Gulf Coast, I feel like I’m on...

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Three Ways Google Maps Will Help You Navigate Your Summer Travels

Google Maps will take you much further from just point A to point B this summer. LaToya Drake shows you how to let your smartphone be your guide with three new tools to help navigate your next vacation. 1.Keep track of your favorite places and share them with friends through Lists. 2. Take the stress out of finding your family on a crowded beach, or friends at a summertime BBQ in the park, through easy-to-use Location Sharing.   3. Parking Difficulty icons will clue you in on whether parking will be hard to find wherever you go, and to...

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Why You Should Travel Solo To Cuba Before October

  By Valarie D’Elia Now that President Trump is tightening up loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba implemented by the previous administration, independent travelers have at least a 90-day grace period to visit the island nation before the rules change. This goes for solo travelers who already have plans in place for a “people-to-people” visit or who make arrangements before the new Treasury Department regulations ban those types of trips.  In the case of the latter, trips can extend beyond the effective date of the new regulations. John McAuliff, Coordinator, Cuba-US People to People Partnership said by simply eliminating...

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Why NYC Freelancers Won’t Be Fleeced Anymore

If you are part of the 38% of New York City writers and workers who freelance, here’s some very good news. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act is now law. This Act, (the first of its kind in the nation) offers protections to freelancers who’ve had to engage in the frustrating game of chasing down money. The effort, spearheaded last fall by the Freelancers Union,  rallied more than 8,000 freelancers to sign a petition that pushed the bill to a vote. In essence, the law calls for mandatory contracts for workers earning 1099-income of at least $800 over a four...

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Tips For Choosing A Summer Camp For Your Kids

By Lena Inglis Choosing the right summer camp for kids and teens can be overwhelming. Navigating a world of camp types, themes and locations can be challenging whether you’re looking for something in upstate New York or further west.  Not to mention that camp costs can swell well over budget — that’s why we’ve teamed up with Katherine Firestone, the founder of the Fireborn Institute,  to help parents sift through the many choices. She offers strategies on how to use the upcoming summer vacation to set children up for success in the fall. Safety Numerous camps specialize in team...

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Against The Odds, Mega-Resort Baha Mar Finally Opens In Nassau

The first phase of a $4.2 billion resort & casino development in the Bahamas that was plagued by delays has finally opened. A well-publicized dispute between the resort’s developer and his Chinese partners that led to bankruptcy court was finally settled, culminating in a traditional ribbon-cutting more than two years overdue. The first phase of a 3-hotel project, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, replete with five pools, is now open.  It features1800 rooms & suites, the largest casino in the Caribbean along with 20 bars and restaurants as well as a convention center. Luxury retail outlets, a 30,000 square foot...

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How Wasted Hotel Soap & Lotions Are Saving Lives

Do you ever feel guilty about using those small plastic bottles of lotion or shampoo at your hotel? Do you know how much soap is wasted by travelers who unwrap a bar, and don’t finish it up? It’s estimated that the North American lodging industry alone throws away more than a million bars of soap each day. But now, a major hotel group, Georgia-based Atrium Hospitality, is trying to remedy that through a recycling program with a non-profit called Clean the World. Clean the World says about 2 million children under the age of five die every year due...

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United Airlines: Sorry Not Sorry

By Gretchen Kelly United Airlines, which was criticized by the traveling public and industry alike for its treatment of an ejected passenger this week, has finally brought itself to say the “S” word. Initially, United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz apologized for the scenario that led to the incident heard around the travel world, but not to the passenger whom lawyers now say will required surgery as well as dental work to repair his injuries while being dragged from the plane by law enforcement agents. On April 11, Munoz issued a statement to his “team” that read in part, “The truly...

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Millennials Move Over: Gen Z Takes Over Travel

Virtuoso advisors polled in a new survey say that while Millennials have “held court as the leading force in the travel industry,” Gen Zers (the generation born between 1990s to early 2000’s) are moving into 40 percent of all consumers with disposable income to travel. Virtuoso’s survey of Gen Z travelers also ID’d the “Top 10 Hottest Family Destinations” among those surveyed.  They are: Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, Orlando, England, Costa Rica, South Africa, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic and Australia. The survey also ID’d the “Top 10 Unconventional Family Destinations”: Iceland, Africa, Antarctica, Cuba, Galapagos Islands, The Arctic, India,...

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Flyers Rights Take A Front Seat In United Airlines Overbooking Debacle

United Airlines stocks dipped dramatically the day after a social media nightmare. On an overbooked flight, a passenger was forcibly dragged from his seat and injured by Chicago police when he refused to leave after being randomly chosen to depart so that United staffers could board. The initial response by United was a terse statement by CEO Oscar Munoz, apologizing for the overbooking. “The response fell well short of what was needed,” wrote P.J. Crowley in The Hill the day after. However, The New York Times is reporting the CEO is finally taking responsibility for the incident that has...

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Vienna’s Attractions Are Now More Affordable & Accessible

Austrian Airlines has just began its first non-stop service from LAX to Vienna. The flights will be operating five times a week starting June 13 and later will increase to six a week. The airline, which already offers non-stop flights from the East Coast to Vienna will use a two-class cabin Boeing 777-200 for the new service from LA to Vienna. Austrian has also partnered with its tourist board and other sources to offer the Vienna Card. The card, which must be purchased ahead of travel and mailed to your home or picked up at the airport on arrival,...

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Airline Intel: Never Fly On Sunday And Exactly When To Buy Tickets

courtesy: Norwegian Air CheapAir.com has released a study that says the best and cheapest time to buy airline tickets online is 54 days before travel for deals on domestic flights. The study also says Sunday is the most expensive day to fly and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest–an average of $73 cheaper. The worst time to buy a domestic airline ticket is during what the company calls the “Hail Mary” window, 0-2 days before flying when a ticket price can go up over $150 more than during the prime booking window of that 54 day period. The study...

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