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(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

An app that helps you beat jet lag: Intriguing, right? Planning for a recent trip to Japan, during which I was going to need to hit the ground running, I decided to try out Entrain, a free app that allows you to monitor your body's circadian clock (its natural daily sleep and waking cycles) and shift it toward a destination time zone to reduce jet lag symptoms. Designed by academics at the University of Michigan, the app gives lighting recommendations (based on your usual sleep schedule, typical daytime light exposure, and particular destination) to help ease your body into a new time zone.

The Power of Light

In search of more details about how light affects jet lag, I reached out to Luc Schlangen, Light and Sleep Scientist at Philips Research. He pinpointed the relationship between light and the circadian clock as one of the most exciting areas of current scientific research on the human body. He explained, "Progress in this area has accelerated since 2000, when researchers discovered a new type of photoreceptor in the eyes, one which powerfully regulates our sleep/wake cycle and our body clock. Through this photoreceptor, light resets our body clock, which prompts our body and organs to carry out their required functions at any time of day." ... read more»

Years ago, some airline or other briefly offered in-seat massages for its upper-class passengers. I remember thinking, "Now this is a good use of flight time." I hoped it would become the Next Big Thing in airline amenities, eventually trickling back to economy class, but instead the entire industry decided to go with less, not more. 

So when faced with a long flight across the Pacific recently, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I resolved to find out a way to turn a long flight in an uncomfortable seat into something restorative. I wanted an inflight spa experience, even if there was nothing spa-like about coach class.

There were, predictably, some challenges. I needed products that didn't require a mirror to apply or any trips to the bathroom to scrub off (doing anything spa-like in an airplane bathroom cancels out 100 percent of the benefits, in my opinion). Each product had to be lightweight, small, and TSA-friendly. And nothing could infringe on nearby passengers' personal spaces in any way. No nail clipping sounds, no heavily scented products, no bare feet. ... read more»

Woman Frustrated at Laptop (Photo: iStockphoto/Brent Holland)

In spite of plunging fuel costs, the airlines have upped fares and maintained fuel surcharges. The New York Times and a prominent Senator are crying "Foul!" ... read more»

Cuba: Pink Vintage Car and Bench (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

A surprise announcement from the White House indicates that restrictions on traveling to Cuba will be loosened soon. The news came after a shocking dual-prisoner exchange—Cuba released American Alan Gross (who has been imprisoned since 2009) and the U.S. let go three Cubans jailed for espionage.

So what does all this mean for U.S. citizens that want to travel to Cuba? ... read more»

(Photo: Baggallini)

What is it: Baggallini Fold Out Cosmetic Bag

Price and Where to Buy: $30 on Amazon.com and $35 on Baggallini.com

Pros: It's lightweight (about 8 ounces), which sets it apart from most toiletries cases. It hangs, which frees up counter space and makes all your items easy to access. It has a pull-out TSA-size-friendly clear bag so you don't have to pack and unpack a separate zip-top quart bag if you're going carry-on. It has three separate sections to keep things organized. ... read more»

Photo: Kimpton Hotels

This week's announcement that InterContinental Hotels Group will purchase Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants elicited a decidedly split reaction among travelers. ... read more»

Renting a car on vacation (Photo: IndexOpen)

In the latest preferred marketing partnership among major travel suppliers, Hertz will award elite status in its Gold Plus Rewards program to elite members of Delta's SkyMiles program ... read more»

(Photo: Lufthansa)

You all know why today's economy-class air travel is so lousy: Most travelers will put up with the worst comfort levels and service to knock a few bucks off the price. "You want cheap, we'll give you cheap" is the airlines' response. And the majority of travelers buy into it. Traditionally, if you wanted something better, you moved up to first class (domestic) or business class (intercontinental). But that next step up in comfort and service is a very big step: Domestic first class usually costs at least double the least expensive economy ticket, and intercontinental business class, with its flat-bed seats and elaborate cabin service, can easily top 10 times the economy price.

Clearly, however, some of you—a minority—are willing to pay a bit more for a bit more comfort and service. Many of the world's airlines recognize that potential market and have introduced in-between "premium economy" offerings. Actually airlines have taken two different approaches: ... read more»

Boeing 737-700 close-up (Photo: easyJet airline company limited)

If you're heading to Europe next year, and if you plan to move around a bit, you may consider some intra-European flights. Europe hosts more than 100 low-cost airlines, some huge, some tiny. On my recent trip to England and Italy, I tested Europe's two largest low-fare lines and came away with some impressions that may be helpful to you.

EasyJet and Ryanair, the largest and second-largest European airlines in terms of annual intra-European passengers, operate from bases spread around the continent. You stand a good chance of flying one or the other just about anywhere you want to go. Fares are capacity controlled, and if you buy well enough in advance, they start out very low. Service is probably closer to Spirit and Allegiant than any other U.S. airlines: Seating is extremely tight, almost everything is priced a la carte, and you pay extra for buying with a credit card (EasyJet does not take American Express). I flew Ryanair from London to Bari and EasyJet back to London a week later, about three hours each way. ... read more»

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