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A lot of travelers don't seem to realize how much they pay just to be somewhere other than home. I call that cost "travel overhead," the daily or hourly cost of just being in a destination. Here are two examples:

  • Trip 1: Two people visit New York from Little Rock, Arkansas, for four days, three nights. Let's say the round-trip airfare is $300 each, plus $100 in checked baggage; the hotel rate is $250 a night (including taxes and extras), and they spend $150 a day more, total, for food than they would at home. The total cost is $1,900. Out of the four-day, three-night period, they have 34 total useful sightseeing/activity hours each. So their travel overhead—the cost of just being in New York—amounts to about $28 an hour, each, or $56 an hour for the couple.
  • Trip 2: Two people visit London from Chicago, Illinois, for a week in June, seven days, five hotel nights (plus one night on the overnight flight to London). Let's say the round-trip airfare is $1,200 each, the hotel rate is $250 a night for a hotel room, and they spend $200 a day more for food then they'd spend at home. The total cost is $4,950. On a seven-day stay, they each have 84 useful sightseeing/activity hours, so the overhead cost of just being in London is about $29 an hour, each, or $59 for the couple.
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    Photo: iStockphoto

    Over the last few days of March, American merged many of the 30 million Dividend Miles members into the AAdvantage program. Big numbers. Big potential problems.

    Skeptics were anticipating a disaster, predicting all manner of technical and customer-service snafus. But in place of the uproar from disgruntled program members that some expected, there was only an eerie silence.

    Yes, against considerable odds, a milestone in the consolidation of two major mileage programs seems to have been passed with nary a glitch. ... read more»

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    I have a long-held theory regarding the relationship between human resources and customer service: The companies that treat their employees the best are likely to treat their customers the best as well. Happy workers are helpful workers, right?

    The newly released Forbes America's Best Employers list would seem to lend some credence to that idea. Overall, Google ranked first, followed by Costco, Marathon Petroleum, The Container Store, and LL Bean. ... read more»

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    For all the buzz they've generated, rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are relative newcomers to the taxi-service scene. And it's not always self-evident how they stack up against each other or against more mainstream services.

    For many, the decision whether to call a traditional cab or use a smartphone app to lock in a ride with Uber or Lyft comes down to price. The cheapest option wins. That's easier said than done, however. There's simply no quick and easy way to cost-compare rides available from the competing services for any particular trip. You may have a general sense that rideshare services are cheaper than taxis, or that Uber is cheaper than Lyft. But those assumptions could fail to hold for any particular case. So you make your best guess, and hope that you've made the most cost-effective choice.

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    Air: Woman in Airport Looking Out at Plane (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

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    I love it when I convince people to engage with the Europe I show them. But when they become engaged with each other in Europe … I like it even more.

    Recently I heard from someone who took his girlfriend on one of my recommended hikes near Mürren, Switzerland: "I convinced Emily to get one last photo of the view together before it got dark, even though we were both tired and hungry—and she very much wanted to relax and have a nice meal. I set up my tripod and when she thought we were just going to pose for a photo, I got on one knee and proposed. She said yes!"

    Love is in bloom all over Europe. Couples embrace while walking the banks of the Seine River in Paris or meet along the Via dell'Amore ("Pathway of Love") in Italy's Cinque Terre. At romantic spots in St. Petersburg you'll see newlyweds with their photographers. After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are practically obligated to drop by a dozen or so picturesque locations for wedding pictures. They'll occasionally make a traditional toast with champagne, then break their glasses to proclaim their love—watch your step! ... read more»

    We try to learn from tragedy. The crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in 2009 prompted changes in flight crew working conditions. Last year, the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 spurred conversation about modernizing flight tracking technology. And the widespread adoption of the "rule of two" seems to be one of the likely effects of last week's crash of a Germanwings flight.

    The idea that more than one person should remain in the cockpit is not a new one. U.S. airlines already have a rule that at least two crew members must remain in the cockpit at all times, but other airlines, countries, and airline safety agencies are now moving fast on instituting similar requirements. ... read more»

    Photo: Aruba Tourism Authority

    Enter the flipflop Wines "Aruba" sweepstakes by April 30, 2015, for a chance to win the grand prize: a six-night trip for four to Aruba, including airfare, hotel, a Jeep tour, and snorkeling cruise.

    To enter, provide the requested contact information (name, email, etc.) on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Done! Time required to participate: less than 30 seconds. ... read more»

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

    Got miles in British Airways' Executive Club program? If so, you might want to double check to confirm that your account wasn't hacked.

    In the latest instance of a major travel-loyalty program falling victim to malicious intruders, The Guardian reports that "tens of thousands" of Executive Club accounts were fraudulently accessed. According to a British Airways statement:

    British Airways has become aware of some unauthorised activity in relation to a small number of frequent-flyer executive club accounts. This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to some accounts. ... read more»

    (Photo: Nite Ize)

    What Is it: The Nite Ize Steelie Vent Mount Kit, an easy way to secure your phone for hands-free use.

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