What to See & Do in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a strange, fun place to visit. In this blog post, Jeanne Marie lists her favorite attractions…which in general match mine.

Attractions to See and Skip in Las Vegas

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

Guest Post: Is the Train System Really Too Outdated for Visitors in the US?

_MG_6765The first thing that needs to be said is that the US Rail Transportation system is not used as frequently for passenger transportation as in other parts of the World, like Europe for example. After all, who in their right minds would want to use trains when they can simply fly there? But, what if you are more interested in sightseeing the US countryside, would the trains be an advantage? What about the cost? There are many variable factors which would need to be kept in mind to tackle these questions.

The Costs
Let us start with pricing. Say that you wanted to visit New York and Washington. Both lie on the opposite ends and you will have to cross the whole mainland. Here is a curious comparison of the times it would take to go through them using Trains and Airplanes. The figures may vary in reality, but they will give us a pretty accurate idea.

160425 airline v train travel cost comparison tableAs you can see that for the above routes the savings are there, but clearly the San Antonio – Dallas trip would not be worth the savings, as it would take a lot of time. However, for the New York to Washington Trip a lot of savings can be had, which can then be spent on the accommodation and other expenses. Plus, it would give you a very good idea about the countryside as well.

The savings using Amtrak can be compounded even more, if you use their day passes, which depending on your choice can be issued for a specific number of trips or a specific time period. That is ideal if you wish to travel frequently only spending a day or two at the destinations.

The Experience
Once again, there are a lot of variables that need to be accounted for. But, the major ones include the overall time for travel and your budget. Long flights tend to be generally hectic, when compared to long train commutes. The main reason is that you are advised to remain in your seat in the Airplanes, but you can walk around freely on the train. There are other advantages too. Usually long routes on the trains have comfortable seats even in the economy sections, which can be reclined back fully to sleep. And if you are booked in the sleeper car, then it isn’t very different from a hotel. Then there are the dining and lounge cars. Plus, they have free Wi-Fi on board which means you can stay connected on the go.

You can ensure an even better experience if you take the necessary items with you on the train. These would include light hand carry luggage, a few toiletries, your phone charger, a power strip – if you plan on using multiple devices and having them at full charge, books, and anything else which you need. Most of these, including the bag and power strip, can be bought at really cheap prices using these coupons from Groupon.

Is it viable?
Generally speaking the trains have much going in their favor, except for the overall time taken. And despite my love of trains, even I would not venture to take an 8 hour journey to Dallas. Well not unless, I had a lot of time. If you do have time then even the longer trips can be fruitful. You can watch the beautiful country side or just binge watch Game of Thrones, before the upcoming season 6. So, in conclusion, the train system is not outdated in the US and is ideal for some trips. But on others, it just wouldn’t make sense to spend about 12 hours, if you can fly there in 3.

Florida Rental-Car Toll Scam…and How to Minimize the Hit


Lots of solid information, including tips from blog readers in the Comments section.

The Airport Butler Will Be Your BFF at the Airport

Some things are more difficult when you are traveling alone. You have to deal with all your luggage alone, there is nobody to help you at the security lines, nobody will save your seat at the gate while you go to the restroom or to buy a cup of coffee. Until now…

Enter Airport Butler Concierge.

For a fee, the Airport Butler will meet you at the curb when you arrive at your departure airport, help you schlep your luggage (including pets) to check-in and through security, and stay with you until you have boarded your flight. They know the local language and customs, which can be a great benefit.

When you arrive at your destination, the Airport Butler will greet you as you de-plane and accompany you until you are connected with your ground transportation.


At this time Airport Butler Concierge is available only at San Francisco (SFO) and Vancouver (YVR), which are used by tens of thousands of student and vacationing Chinese, but they hope to expand to other airports.

It’s Usually OK to Use the Toilet Even When the Seatbelt Sign is On

The flight attendant can tell you the seatbelt sign is on, but that’s OK.


However, if s/he says that you must return to your seat, you have to obey.

The airline really, really does not want you to soak your seat cushion in urine…it’s so darn hard to sell that seat to another passenger on the next flight.

More Websites to Help Select Airlines for Award Travel

In addition to FlyerMiler.com , this report evaluates some of its competitors. Here is a report on FlyerMiler.


and another report which adds Milez.biz:


and a third report:


The competitors include:

AAdvantage Gold Card


Tips on Viewing the Northern Lights

Several years ago I flew to Fairbanks in March with the intent of seeing the Northern Lights. They have an institute there, connected to the University, whose website has lots of helpful information. For example, go when there is a new (invisible) moon, so the sky will be really dark.

On the outbound flight the lights were happening big time…plenty of reds. The FA noticed me glued to the window, with a jacket over my head to keep out cabin lights, and said that the flight crew up front were enjoying the show also.

That was the only time I saw them…it was overcast for my 2 nights on the ground.

So, my tip would be to fly in and out at night, guaranteeing that you will be above the clouds.