Archive for November, 2010

Search to resume for Air France 447

November 26th, 2010 by Mariah

Paris, France (CNN)–A new operation will begin next year to find the debris of Air France Flight 447, which mysteriously crashed into the southern Atlantic Ocean last year, French officials said.

The search will begin in February and will be the fourth search for debris from the Airbus A330-200, which crashed while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009. All 228 people on board were killed.

Investigators have not yet established what caused the crash, and large parts of the plane — including both flight recorders — have never been found, despite an extensive search operation that included a French navy submarine.

France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, will give details of the searches that will take place in the coming weeks in a meeting with families of the victims, the French Transport Ministry said.

The Air France plane went down in stormy weather, and most of the bodies were never recovered. The plane’s flight data recorder remains missing in the ocean, according to Air France.

Studies of the debris and bodies that were found led the BEA to conclude the plane hit the water belly first, essentially intact. Oxygen masks were not deployed, indicating that the cabin did not depressurize, the BEA revealed in a report last year.

Automated messages sent from the plane in the minutes before the crash showed there were problems measuring air speed, the investigators said, though they said that alone was not enough to cause the disaster.

The area where the plane went down is far out in the Atlantic — two to four days for ships to reach from the nearest ports in Brazil or Senegal in west Africa. The underwater terrain is rough with underwater mountains and valleys, the BEA said.

Bad weather strands thousands near Everest

November 19th, 2010 by Mariah

Helicopter rides back from Mount Everest after a week on the slopes of the world’s tallest mountain might sound like a trekker’s delight, but for the tourists trapped in the remote region of Nepal, the extended stay was not on the itinerary.

Around 2,000 foreign tourists and their porters have spent the past five days stuck in a tiny village 9,186 feet up the slopes of a hill near Everest due to bad weather, with Nepali army helicopters set to begin flying the stranded sightseers to safety on Friday.

They have been trapped in Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest in east Nepal, after thick cloud and blustering winds forced airlines to cancel their flights to and from the remote region, officials said on Friday.

‘Low clouds and high winds’Tens of thousands of trekkers and climbers visit the Solukhumbu region in east Nepal, home to Mount Everest, every year.

Many start their trek from windswept Lukla village where a small airstrip is carved into the rugged mountainside.

Weather officials in Katmandu said the area had seen “low clouds and high winds” in the past three to five days, making flights by fixed-wing small airplanes difficult and risky.

“Flights by private helicopters are inadequate and their fares out of reach of common budget trekkers,” Mahendra Singh Thapa, a senior official from the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal said in a statement.

Bikram Neupane, chief of the Himalayan Rescue Association of Nepal said all hikers were safe and not in danger.

“They are unable to get into their return flights to Katmandu because of bad weather,” Neupane told Reuters.

The autumn season, which extends from September to November, is popular among Western trekkers in Nepal, which gets nearly four percent of its gross domestic product from tourism.

Which Airports Have Body Scanning Technology?

November 19th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) – Many Americans planning holiday travel have expressed concern — even outrage — over the the Transportation Security Administration’s use of full-body scanning and enhanced pat-downs, but a large number of fliers are likely to bypass both screening procedures.

There are 400 full-body scanning machines at 69 airports nationwide, according to the TSA.

About 24 million air travelers are expected to fly over the Thanksgiving holiday period, according to the Air Transport Association of America, an airline trade group.

The group expects daily passenger volumes to range from 1.3 million to 2.5 million fliers. Certainly, some number of those will be asked to step into one of the full-body scanning machines. The rest will go through the metal detector lines as usual.

Passengers in either line may be selected for additional screening, including the enhanced pat-down procedure that allows security officers of the same sex to touch sensitive areas of a passenger’s body. Fliers who decline the optional full-body scan will receive alternative screening, including a thorough pat-down, according to the TSA.


“It’s important to remember that TSA screens nearly 2 million passengers daily and that very few passengers are required to receive a pat-down,” according to a post on the TSA Blog.

The body-scanning machines use two separate means of creating images of passengers — backscatter X-ray technology and millimeter-wave technology. About 190 backscatter machines have been installed in airports; the remainder are millimeter-wave machines.

The TSA website lists all the airports using advanced-imaging technology to screen passengers. The website does not specifiy which type of machine is used in each airport.

Airports that currently have imaging technology, according to the website:

• Albuquerque International Sunport Airport

• Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

• Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

• Boston Logan International Airport

• Houston’s George Bush Interncontinental Airport

• Boise Airport

• Bradley International Airport

• Brownsville-South Padre Island Airport

• Buffalo Niagara International Airport

• Charlotte Douglas International Airport

• Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

• Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

• Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

• Corpus Christi International Airport

• Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

• Denver International Airport

• Detroit Metro Airport

• Dulles International Airport

• El Paso International Airport

• Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

• Fort Wayne International Airport

Fresno Yosemite International Airport

• Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport

Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford International Airport

• Harrisburg International Airport

• Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas

• Honolulu International Airport

• Indianapolis International Airport

• Jacksonville International Airport

• John F. Kennedy International Airport

• Kansas City International Airport

• LaGuardia Airport

• Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

• Laredo International Airport

• Lihue Airport

• Los Angeles International Airport

• San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport

• McAllen-Miller International Airport

• Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

• Memphis International Airport

• Miami International Airport

• Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport

• Mineta San José International Airport

• Minneapolis/St.Paul International Airport

• Nashville International Airport

• Newark Liberty International Airport

• Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

• Oakland International Airport

• Omaha Eppley Field Airport

• Orlando International Airport

• Palm Beach International Airport

• Philadelphia International Airport

• Phoenix International Airport

• Pittsburgh International Airport

• Port Columbus International Airport

• Raleigh-Durham International Airport

• Richmond International Airport

• Greater Rochester International Airport

• Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

• Salt Lake City International Airport

• San Antonio International Airport

• San Diego International Airport

• San Francisco International Airport

• Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

• Spokane International Airport

• T.F. Green Airport

• Tampa International Airport

• Tulsa International Airport

Stuck at sea for three days, passengers ready to cruise again!

November 12th, 2010 by Mariah

San Diego, California (CNN) — Even though they were stuck without air conditioning, hot showers and decent meals, at least four passengers who made it off a crippled Carnival Cruise Lines ship said Friday that they would go on a cruise again.


“I’m so thankful that we’re all alive,” Leticia Lewis said on CNN’s “American Morning.” “I don’t wish this experience on anyone. It wasn’t a wonderful event. But I would take another one.”


Amber Haslerud, another passenger, said her voyage on the ill-fated Carnival Cruise ship Splendor was her first cruise, and she would also go on another one.


“I definitely would give it another go and try to get the experience I should have had this time,” said Haslerud. “I deserve it after all that we went through this week.”


Natalie Martinez and Angela Evans said they would also go on another cruise, but they would bring a survival kit with flashlights, chocolate and air freshener. And “I think we would wait a year,” Martinez added.


The cruise ship lost power earlier this week after a fire started in the engine room of the vessel. Some 3,300 passengers left the ship Thursday after a three-day ordeal.


Some passengers left the boat with horror stories.


“It was absolutely deplorable,” Marquis Horace said. At one point, the ship ran out of food, he said, and “they started making mayo sandwiches.”


Maurice Harold and his wife, Cynthia Harold, not only had to endure being adrift, they had to do so without some of their own clothes, medicines and other items lost when their luggage went into the water while being loaded onto the ship.


“It was pretty traumatic. It was a scary situation, said Cynthia Harold, who said she needs to use an oxygen machine while sleeping and was unable to after the ship lost power.


“I really haven’t slept since I left Virginia Beach,” she said.


The couple said they are considering a lawsuit, but it all depends on how Carnival compensates them.


The cruise line has said it plans to give customers who were aboard the Splendor a full refund, reimbursement for travel costs and a free cruise.


Others looked at the incident differently calling it an “adventure.”


“A lot of things went wrong, but it was really fun,” said one young passenger, Ryan Harlan, who was traveling with his parents. “We went to the Kids’ Camp.”


He said the Kids’ Camp was, in fact, his favorite part, because he made some friends.


And the worst part? “Being stranded in the middle of the ocean,” he said.


The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday it was investigating the incident. But later in the day the safety board said officials from Panama would lead the investigation because that is the country the vessel is flagged under.


The U.S. Coast Guard will also be part of the investigation, the transportation board said.


Country Christmas Decorating

November 12th, 2010 by Mariah

Country Christmas Decorating


Add a little country charm to your Christmas decorating this year. Forego the glitz and glam for natural materials, check fabrics and homemade country style. The beauty of this type of decorating is that it doesn’t have to look perfect. The odd crooked stitch or slightly askew angel wing just shows that it is homemade and adds to the charm. Lots of these projects are perfect for children to help with too.

Handmade Cards The easy way to do this is to buy blank cards and add your own decoration or make your own by simply making a sharp crease in thin card. Do this by scoring lightly along a ruler edge with a craft knife on the inside of the card before folding.

Imagine a 3″ square of red and white gingham with frayed or pinked edges stuck on to the card, topped with a little paper or felt heart or star, and a red hand written Happy Christmas underneath. Very easy, Very country, Very, very nice to recive. Or try a scrap of green fabric or felt cut into a triangle shape to suggest a Christmas tree with a gold star on the top, or an embroidered or cross stitched initial or Merry Christmas.

Country Tree Decorations Why not make some simple felt ornaments for the tree? Use cookie cutters, patterns in children’s coloring books or whatever you can find to make a template, then cut out felt hearts, stars, angels, stockings, whatever takes your fancy. Cut two identical pieces out of the felt and one slightly smaller out of wadding/batting to go between the two and give a slightly padded look. Blanket stitch all the way around the edge in a contrasting color and add a ribbon for hanging.

If you are handy with a jig saw cut out hearts and stars from thin wood, then paint and hang with raffia for a homespun look, or even easier make your ornaments from salt dough. Don’t forget to make a hole for hanging before baking in a very low oven or leaving in a very warm place for a few days before painting to match your scheme.

If your baubles don’t fit in with this new look, pick one color and get some textured fabric in a bright red perhaps, and cover them, tying with a bow at the top, or if you want to stick to a natural look try covering your old baubles with calico and tying with raffia.

More Ideas for the Tree Make some imitation or real mini parcels by covering matchboxes with Hessian or gingham and tie with a bow.

Use natural or painted wooden beads, or strings of cranberries or popcorn to drape the tree instead of tinsel.

Paint and wire on pine cones or real red glossy apples.

Tie on bundles of cinnamon sticks for a fabulous fragrance.

Push cloves into oranges to make aromatic pomanders to place in bowls or hang from the tree. Make the holes with a nail or small skewer first to make it easier and much quicker. You don’t have to cover the whole orange, I usually start by tying on a narrow ribbon and then arrange the cloves in lines two or three deep around the orange in whatever design takes my fancy.

A batch of gingerbread men probably wouldn’t last until Christmas Day but they would look great for as long as you could keep little (or big!) hands off them!

Table Toppers There is a trend towards using a runner down the middle of the table to take your decorations and candles. This an ideal spot to add a country air with a red or plaid runner, bowls and platters piled high with fruit and mince pies, and red or cream candles swirled with ivy. You can then use plain red place mats underneath your plates, with a napkin on top of the plate and on top of the napkin the cutlery for that place setting tied together with a narrow check or tartan ribbon and slightly fanned out on the napkin. Add natural pine cones holding hand written name place cards.

Dress up your dining chairs with simple chair back covers, just a hemmed runner of fabric to drape over the front and back of the dining chair secured at the sides with ribbon ties. These are perfect for decorating with ribbons, flowers and fresh foliage on Christmas Day.

Hyatt Introduces Hypoallergenic Hotel Rooms

November 8th, 2010 by Mariah


If you are the sort of traveler who can not leave home without your antihistamine, Hyatt may have a solution for you: a hypoallergenic guest room.

For an extra $20 to $30 a night, guests can stay in one of 2,000 specially scrubbed and air-filtered rooms, most of which will be available by year’s end, in all of its 125 full-service North American properties. Though many hotels offer purified guest rooms, Hyatt will be the first chain to offer them across a broad swath of its properties. Hyatt cited as a study from Cornell University — commissioned by an air purifying company — that found that 83 percent of travelers prefer an allergen-free room, even if they don’t have allergies.

In order to satisfy those travelers (and others who do actually have allergies or asthma), Hyatt said it uses a six-step cleaning process to sanitize its special rooms that includes disseminating tea tree oil, a natural disinfectant, through the ventilation system, and using a blast of ozone to get rid of lingering odors. Also, the hotel is using a medical-grade air-purification system that it says eliminates at least 98 percent of airborne viruses, bacteria and pollen.

Guests may still open the windows on low pollen days. The system will zap intruding irritants within an hour.

Airlines to offer free WIFI during holidays

November 8th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN)– Who says nothing’s free on planes anymore?

During the holiday season, Delta Air Lines, AirTran Airways and Virgin America are teaming up with Google to give travelers free in-flight Wi-Fi.

“Our holiday promotion with Google’s Chrome browser team allows us to offer our customers free Wi-Fi as a small token of appreciation,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s senior vice president of marketing, in a statement.

The promotion on the three airlines will run from November 20 to January 2.

“These participating airlines have outfitted their entire domestic fleet with Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi, and we expect more connected passengers this holiday season than ever before!” Google Chrome wrote in an announcement.

Gogo Inflight passes cost from $4.95 to $12.95 per flight, depending on duration and distance.

Top Winter Destinations

November 5th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) – Looking to get away this holiday season? Who better to find the deals than agents catering to notoriously cash-strapped students?

We spoke with Patrick Evans of the student travel agency STA Travel, Danielle Carlson of StudentUniverse and Anne Banas ofSmarter Travel, who offered recommendations for five places around the globe that offer an especially great value for trips from December 1 through January 25.

The first two weeks of December and the first week of January are known as “dead weeks” in the travel industry, and are the “absolute best time to travel in the entire year,” Banas said.

So why not follow college students during their winter break to visit awesome destinations at low prices?

1. Costa Rica

With an average temperature of 72 degrees during the winter, travelers will enjoy a wonderful climate during a holiday retreat to Costa Rica.

Visitors can explore tons of outdoor activities including beaches, canopy tours and national parks.

“Latin American countries are a great value right now because a lot of airlines are increasing service to these locations,” Banas said. Carlson added that Costa Rica is her company’s top selling Latin American location, followed by Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Lima, Peru.

2. Lima, Peru

Speaking of Lima, why not spend winter break visiting the largest city in Peru?

Adventurous travelers can venture beyond the metropolis to explore the jungle, climb the Andes Mountains, and discover the lost city of the Incas.

“Air travel is great in Lima, with tons of low-cost carriers flying there,” Banas said.


3. Panama City, Florida

Panama City and neighboring Panama City Beach aren’t just for spring breakers. Indulge in shopping, helicopter tours, or spend a day at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.

With highs in the 60s even during winter, there’s always something to do in the area. Florida also boasts another destination with good values during winter break: Orlando, Carlson said.

Many of the major attractions in the area offer deals this time of year. You can avoid the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds right after the New Year’s holiday, when theme parks often reach capacity.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

“Boston is really, really cheap and affordable to get to,” Banas said.

While travel prices tend to be rising nationwide, it is actually getting less expensive to travel to Boston.

“Jet Blue is now using Logan Airport in Boston as a secondary hub,” Banas explained.

Additionally, AirTran has had a strong presence in Boston, and with Southwest just starting to fly into the airport last year, it makes Logan a powerhouse of low-cost airlines.

So if the cold doesn’t bother you, winter break would be the best time to come check out the museums and all this city has to offer.

5. London, England, and Paris, France

Wave at the Queen during a trip to London or visit Paris for some pastries and French berets.

“For Europe, we’re seeing a huge interest in flights to London, with Paris ranking second,” Carlson said. Additionally, London and Paris are among StudentUniverse’s top destinations in Europe for hotels offering a great value.

“British Airways is offering some crazy cheap hotel packages, with roundtrip flights from 20 major U.S. cities and two nights in a London hotel for $412 if you book by November 3,” Banas said.

London and Paris are year-round destinations, so why not visit during the off-season for tourists?

“During the winter travel months — excluding holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas — many of the European destinations are going to be just as beautiful as they are during the summer, but with less tourists you’ll have shorter lines for the sites and often find more welcoming local businesses since they aren’t overrun with tourists,” Evans said.

In fact, December is said to be the best time to visit France, as the already beautiful country is decorated with lights, holiday ribbons, and is full of Christmas markets.

Banas said the post-holiday deals are often posted right after Thanksgiving. Add that to your Black Friday shopping list!

Oprah Unveils Plane

November 5th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) – The Queen of Talk’s influence is reaching new heights with the unveiling of a plane marking the 25th and final season of the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”

United Airlines debuted a 757 Thursday newly painted from nose to tail with the logo for the show’s farewell season. During its inaugural flight from Chicago, Illinois, one ticketed passenger will receive enough United miles for a trip around the world.

“As Chicago’s hometown airline, United is proud to celebrate The Oprah Winfrey Show’s Farewell Season with our customers, employees and ‘Oprah’ show fans,” said Mark Bergsrud, senior vice president of marketing for United, in a statement.

“This unique plane represents the global reach of two great Chicago icons.”

The Oprah plane will fly United customers between cities in the airline’s domestic network through May 2011. An onboard video featuring Oprah Winfrey will greet customers.

United is also launching a sweepstakes that will award 1 million United Mileage Plus miles to one passenger each month through May 2011.

Passengers on the inaugural flight to Los Angeles, California, will take home “Oprah 25″ fleece blankets.

5 Tips For Disney Vacations

November 5th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) — A trip to Walt Disney World usually conjures up images of summer vacation, but it turns out late fall is the perfect time to go.

Consider scheduling your trip during the period just after Thanksgiving and up until about December 20, said Bob Sehlinger, co-author of the recently released “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2011.”

You’ll be there after the peak season rush and just before the Orlando, Florida, mega-attraction fills up again for the holidays.

“The parks all have their Christmas decorations up, and they’re just absolutely stunning. The crowds are at their lowest all year, and it’s historically a very dry and sunny and warm time of year,” Sehlinger said.

There are downsides, too, such as earlier closing hours and possibly having to pull the kids out of school for a bit if you’re going as a family. Still, it’s Sehlinger’s favorite time to go and he should know.

The author has been to Disney World countless times since publishing his first unofficial guide to the park in 1985.

He began compiling the books after a frustrating experience to which many theme park visitors can relate: He took his kids to Disney World, paid a lot of money and ended up standing in line all day while getting to see only five or six attractions.

So Sehlinger worked on a plan. With a background in operations research, he came up with a model designed to sequence going through the parks while minimizing waiting in line, he said.

These days, more than 20 people work on his unofficial guide, including a statistician, a child psychologist and teams of hotel inspectors.

The author offered the following five tips for travelers looking to get the most out of their Disney World vacation in the fall or at any time of the year.




1. Prepare physically

Many people don’t realize that a vacation in a big theme park will require them to walk an average of eight miles a day as they go from ride to ride, so visitors need to make sure they have the stamina to do it, Sehlinger said.

“You can’t take a family of couch potatoes — and particularly you can’t take young children and just get them up at the crack of dawn and run them through a theme park eight or nine miles without them crashing on you,” Sehlinger said.

He recommends taking walks around your neighborhood two or three months before your trip and extending them to a point where your kids can walk six or seven miles without being unduly fatigued.



2. Prepare mentally

Avoid family conflicts by talking about what you expect out of your Disney vacation.

“Let’s say mom is the primary caregiver at home and she has it in her mind that ‘this is my break,’ and dad is really going to take on the heavy lifting as far as the parenting is concerned,” Sehlinger said.

“And dad is thinking, ‘I’m going to get these people off to the theme park and go play golf.’ So you end up down there with some sort of a dissonant situation that creates problems.”

Division of labor, the challenges of parenting on the road, unusual amounts of togetherness and the effects of hyperstimulation on your children are all things to discuss before you go.



3. Less is more

Move getting your money’s worth off the radar and focus instead on having the most fun possible, which can usually be accomplished if you don’t push too hard and if you build rest and relaxation into your planning.

“You’re going to be at a juncture at some point in time, probably sooner than later, where you’re saying, ‘OK, we’ve got four more rides we’ve got to do and then we can go back to the hotel.’ Well, that’s crazy. You’re not listening to what your emotions and your body are telling you and you’re not enjoying yourself,” Sehlinger said.

If you visit during the peak summer months, he suggested going to the park in the morning when it’s cool and not too crowded, then leaving before lunch and returning again at about 4 p.m.

Pace yourself and remember that if you don’t see everything this time, you can go back next year or the year after.




4. Bring your own snacks

Dining is expensive inside the park, even for basic items such as hot dogs and soda.

You’re allowed to bring food with you, so equip yourself and your kids with hip packs and bring along bottled water, sandwiches or trail mix, which will save you money and time standing in line at restaurants and food stands, Sehlinger said.



5. Stay in a hotel outside the park or rent a house

There are so many hotel rooms inside the resort that many of the chain hotels nearby are struggling to find customers, which means there are bargains to be had if you’re willing to stay off property, Sehlinger said.

There are also thousands of rental homes in the Orlando area, and they’re great deals, he added.

For the price of two rooms at Disney’s least expensive resort, you can get a four-bedroom house “with a full living room, kitchen, private enclosed swimming pool and all the privacy and quiet in the world where you can really get away from the hustle and bustle,” Sehlinger said.

Do you have what it takes?

November 5th, 2010 by Mariah

It’s almost impossible to describe the typical person who operates a bed and breakfast.

They come from all walks of life, from professionals to laborers. Artists, craftsman, farmers, insurance agents, teachers and anyone else you can think of have opened and run successful B&Bs. Singles, couples and families have all been involved.

Their reasons for opening a bed and breakfast? Just as varied.

Perhaps children have grown and moved away and there are empty rooms in a large home. Some people just have more rooms than they need. Widowed or divorced people have opened B&Bs.

While they are run for a source of income, most people do not depend on them solely for their livelihood. People retired from other professions — such as professionals or farmers — who have a separate primary source of income often operate bed and breakfasts.

All successful bed and breakfasts have one thing in common: owners who like people!

They also like to entertain people in their homes. Many of these owners also have skills they want to use, such as cooking, to please their guests. Others may have historically significant homes they want to share with others.

Anyone seriously thinking about opening a bed and breakfast must like people and be able to deal with all types of people. This is a people business! You must also be willing to sacrifice a big part of your personal life since guests will be living with you.

Many skills are needed to run a successful bed and breakfast. Do you have what it takes?

Before spending a lot of time and money, use this personal assessment survey to help determine if you and your partner (if you have one) have the skills needed.

Answer honestly by writing yes or no to each statement below. (Remember, this survey is for you — if you’re not completely honest with your answers, it won’t do you any good!)

Complete the survey for both yourself and for your partner. Have your partner do the same. (So you both fill out the survey twice.)


Personal Assessment Survey


  • I enjoy getting up early and preparing meals.
  • I’m highly organized and manage my time well.
  • I’m self-motivated and a self-starter.
  • I can do several tasks at one time.
  • I enjoy entertaining.
  • I find it easy to get along with most people.
  • I’m tolerant and patient.
  • I can handle conflict without alienation.
  • I work well under pressure.
  • I can work long hours and face a variety of interruptions.
  • I learn from mistakes and make changes as needed.
  • I keep my home neat and clean at all times.
  • I enjoy performing home maintenance.
  • I’m cheerful.
  • I enjoy interior decorating and remodeling.
  • I enjoy gardening and landscaping.
  • I have a regular income.
  • I communicate well on the phone.
  • I write well and regularly.
  • I’m persistent.
  • I consider myself a risk-taker.
  • I have a high energy level.
  • I enjoy serving others.
  • I consider myself flexible.
  • I have a good business sense.
  • I can handle the business end of a B&B.
  • I handle emergencies well.


Compare your answers with your partner’s. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Did any of your answers — or your partner’s answers — surprise you?


Now identify, in writing, your strengths and weaknesses. If you plan to become an innkeeper, your strengths should outweigh your weaknesses and you need to determine ways to compensate for the weak areas.

Have Grandparents, will travel

November 1st, 2010 by Mariah

Last thing before leaving home Connor drew a big red heart on a piece of paper, cut it in two and gave one half to his parents.

“When we are reunited,” he told them, “we can put the heart back together.”

Connor, age “six and three-quarters,” was about to fly to Walt Disney World with my wife and me, known to him as Nana and Grandpa. It would be his first overnight trip without his parents and he was nervous. Little did he know that he was taking part in one of the hottest trends in travel – a grandparent-grandkid vacation on which Mom and Dad are not invited.

A 2009 study by Travelhorizons, the research division of the U.S. Travel Association, indicated that grandparents travelling with grandchildren represent 7 per cent of U.S. adult leisure travellers. No figures are available for Canada, but companies like Merit Travel Group of Toronto and Adventures Abroad of Richmond, B.C. have extensive experience in the field. Today’s grandparents live longer and are more robust than previous generations and are involved as caregivers to their grandchildren, mainly because of two-career families, explains Lori Copeland, Merit’s director of business development. “They have a desire to share experiences with their family while they’re living, rather than leaving an inheritance upon their death.”

Connor had already been to Disney World with his parents, so we decided to include something a little different – golf. Grandpa has played golf, badly and only about six times. But Connor watches golf on television and has started taking lessons at home. Wouldn’t it be fun for him and Grandpa to take a joint lesson from a pro?

First, however, we had to get him away from his parents at the airport. No sooner were they out of sight than he burst into tears. He was still crying at U.S. pre-clearance when an immigrationmag-glass_10x10.gif agent asked him, “Do you know these people?” Luckily for us, he said yes.

On the plane, he morphed back to his normal happy self as he watched children’s videos and played computer games. On landing, he insisted that we phone his parents immediately. After that, he was satisfied with one call a day at bedtime. On day three, he told us, “I feel like you’re my parents now.”

Travelling with a grandchild, we discovered, wasn’t that different from past trips with our own kids, except that now we’re out of practice and out of shape. A couple things have changed for the better, in-flight entertainment has never been so good and our large lightweight suitcases make our load of toys and clothes a little easier to handle. Six-year-olds, we were reminded, can’t be programmed. They need time to climb on rocks, play hopscotch on the hotel carpet and dash into every souvenir store they pass.

We started our golfing experience at Disney’s Fantasia Gardens miniature golf course, where Connor beat the old folks. The next day, Connor and I progressed to the real thing, our golf lesson from PGA professional Mike Gertzberg at the Palm, one of two Disney courses that will host the Children’s Miracle Network Classic next month. Mike had planned to teach us the fundamentals of posture and swinging, using videos to highlight our mistakes. Connor wanted to hit the ball his way. So Mike, a man of great patience, spent much of the lesson persuading Connor to look out for nearby people before swinging. When it was over, Connor had at least learned how to scoop up a ball with a sand wedge, so he considered the lesson worthwhile.

Our biggest mistake was trying to cram too many experiences into a four-day trip. We stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we could watch giraffes and zebras from our balcony. But Connor was more interested in using the clue sheet we got at check-in to hunt for “hidden Mickeys” in the lobby. He sat transfixed through La Nouba, Disney’s Cirque du Soleil show, but told us after that “a little bit of it was boring.”

One highlight for him was dinner at Chef Mickey’s, where costumed characters came to our table to sign autographs. He rates it the best restaurant in the world. He also liked Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, where he cleaned up at every trick-or-treat station he could find. By the third morning, he asked for free time. So instead of another theme park we fitted in a swim and a video arcade at our hotel.

On the final day, when we had to leave our last theme park for the airport, Connor balked. “Phone Mommy and Daddy and tell them we are staying another night,” he demanded. He even cried a little, but this time he was faking.

Back home, he rushed to show his parents the treasures he had purchased, including a scary plastic tarantula and a “dinosaur egg” he’s convinced will hatch in 10 years. He forgot all about reuniting the pieces of the paper heart.



From Friday’s Globe and Mail