Archive for September, 2012

Travel…With Children — Part 2 of 2: Fly Safe with Babies

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In our second Hot Topics installment of “Travel…With Children,” syndicated travel columnist and child travel expert, Eileen Ogintz, lays out all the reasons why parents should opt for a paid airplane seat for their baby. Catch up on our first installment, where we covered tech tips to keep the kids quiet and content on those long plane rides.

Taking the Kids Columnist, Eileen Ogintz

A flight attendant once told me that babies are the only thing not required to be strapped in or strapped down for take off and landing. Isn’t it about time that is changed?

Fall, of course, is the time when many families with young kids head off on vacation.  Yes, your baby could sit in your lap and fly for free if they’re under two.  But honestly, wouldn’t you pay any amount to keep your baby safe? You wouldn’t get in a car without strapping a baby or toddler in a safety seat. Why an airplane?

For years, everyone from the FAA to the American Academy of Pediatrics has been saying that young children are safest when restrained in a  safety seat on board an airplane. They stress they are talking about turbulent skies as much as plane crashes.  The FAA notes that turbulence is the leading cause of injuries in plane accidents that are not fatal; a baby can easily fly out of your arms! .  Here’s what the FAA says about flying  with children. Continue reading →

One-on-One with Betsa Marsh and Lillian Africano, Heads of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Betsa Marsh and Lillian Africano, the current president and incoming president, respectively, of North America’s largest professional association of travel and tourism experts, the Society of American Travel Writers (, @SATW). SATW covers every major angle of consumer and business travel, and is also widely recognized by global travel media and major travel industries as among the top resources for information, expertise and all around know-how for travelers and tourists.

SATW held its annual convention from September 8 – 14th this year in Indianapolis, convening nearly 300 travel journalists and public relations professionals to meet, exchange story ideas, explore the city and continue building relationships within the greater travel writing industry.

Betsa Marsh

Betsa Marsh


“People will always want to travel, no matter if it’s by car, plane, boat, or other transport. That thirst for adventure is alwaysworthwhile for our 1,100 members, who provide information and tips on just about every imaginable aspect of travel.”

– Betsa Marsh and Lillian Africano, SATW

• With more than 1,000 travel journalist members, SATW truly is a brain trust. Is there a way that travelers can leverage this vast knowledge bank?

People will always want to travel, no matter if it’s by car, plane, boat, or other transport. That thirst for adventure is always worthwhile for our 1,100 members, who provide information and tips on just about every imaginable aspect of travel. Consumer travelers are welcome to peruse the SATW website ( to learn about our journalists’ and photographers’ areas of expertise as well as read about the latest travel trends, travel purveyors and industry news. Many SATW members also have their own successful blogs, helping them play the role of travel consultant quite well.

Lillian Africano

Lillian Africano

Additionally, SATW has educational outreach programs designed to educate school students and the public about world geography and culture. These include the Traveling Teddies program in elementary schools and travel writing essay and photography contests the Society sponsors for teens and college students. Some travel journalists are also turning their prior work into e-books or making deals with travel bureaus, hotels  and destination cities to provide guidebooks and other resources, so we’ve cast quite a wide net of information for travelers everywhere.

ExpertFlyer subscribers are sophisticated business travelers and frequent flyers. What up-to-date travel news and wisdom can you impart to this audience?

If you’re going to specific cities frequently, you should build equity with the brands you do business with. Hotels, restaurants, spas and other businesses often reward their best customers, so take advantage of such offers when possible.

Travelers are always looking for the latest and greatest travel deals. What unique travel deal opportunities are on your radar?

Even as the economy improves, travelers are still looking for good deals, and it shows. For example, CityPASS, a company that bundles prepaid admission to top attractions in major cities, has seen double-digit growth in the past year. And, CityPASS has been selling many deals for New York City and southern California, both of which can be expensive destinations. There’s also a lot of booking on-the-fly with social media deals, and we expect to see that trend increase in 2013. People are better connected and passing along their personal travel recommendations, helping shape the greater online “trend deal” industry.

What are travel writers doing more of now and why?

Today, many media outlets look for complete packages that include a well-crafted written story, plus accompanying photography and video. Additionally, in the ever-changing media landscape, travel writers must stay up-to-speed on emerging media and technological tools that help them do their jobs. Freelance travel writers must be their own marketers, getting the word out about their services and showcasing their work through their own websites they manage, social media posts on Facebook, tweets, Pinterest, Four Square, Flickr accounts and other tools. One of the many benefits of SATW membership is the professional development offered to help members stay at the top of their game.

What are the emerging travel industry trends that consumers should pay attention to from air carriers and hospitality providers?

Luxury travel is on the upswing, and incentive travel is picking up as well. Consumers are taking longer trips and spending more time visiting their families. Also, US legacy carriers are facing increased pressure from Middle East and Asia airlines, which have seen positive response from better marketing, amenities, catering and customer service. Look for US carriers to give a renewed approach on these fronts in 2013.

What are the hot areas of consumer interest and what kinds of stories will we see more of in 2013?

You’ll definitely see stories around the presidential inauguration and travel to Washington, DC in the beginning of the year. People will want to read more about warm weather destinations, cruises with a small passenger ratio, and adventure and upscale travel. International travel is increasing as well, particularly as more countries are becoming more accessible, such as Burma. Renting homes and property to stay at is a growing trend, and that inventory is putting more pressure on hotels to come up with bigger and better deals and marketing to keep their customer base. Travel agents and planning companies are also seeing an increase in business, helping to plan unique trips such as safaris, adventures, and other specialty travel.

Travel…With Children – Part 1 of 2: May the iPad Be With You

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Since we’re still enjoying back-to-school time bliss, our Hot Topic series is all about kids, that is, traveling with the little buggers.  In part 1 of our 2-part series, we called upon the expertise of Corinne McDermott, mother of two and founder of, an award-winning website with a mission to inspire, motivate, and help families travel with babies, toddlers, and young children. Corinne has some life-saving tech tips to keep the munchkins quiet and content on those long plane rides.

iPad and happy kids on a Plane

Before I had children, I was adamant that their screen time would be limited to two hours per week — And only educational programming, of course. Then I had children, and sometimes that two hour limit can be based on a particularly trying day.  I’m exaggerating just a smidge, but my reluctance to embrace technology where my children are concerned stems from both studies released stating that too much screen time is bad for babies, and also the fact that this technology did not exist when I was their age – so I feared it… just a little.

But it was our first flight as iPad owners that made me realize technology is a total game-changer when it comes to travel with children, in a good way.

In addition to food and other necessities, our carry-on bag used to be filled to the brim with heavy books, a portable DVD player, and DVDs. That same bag is now a good ten pounds lighter thanks to uploaded books, movies and shows, as well as age appropriate apps. But even though you’re traveling with a tablet, you still have to approach a flight with kids both physically and mentally prepared.

  • Don’t hand over the goods straight away. You should still bring some old-school fun (coloring and sticker books are tried and true classics) so your kids don’t tire of the tech. Once you bring out the iPad it’s tough to top, so try to hold out on handing it over for as long as you can.
  • Keep a lid on at-home access. If your kids have no limits to their time with gadgets at home, using them while you’re away will lose its novelty. At this stage my kids look forward to their tech as much as they do the trip we’re taking, and for now I’m ok with that.
  • Do a test run. Before you go, put your tablet in “Airplane” mode and test the functionality of the apps and programs you know your kids will want to use/watch, and pre-screen any new additions to work out potential kinks and make sure they’re age appropriate.

Come back for our second Hot Topics installment of “Travel…With Children.” We’ll be getting more valuable advice from popular child travel expert and “Taking the Kids” syndicated columnist, Eileen Ogintz.

“Did you know…The top city for taxing travelers?”

(Travel Kit on

GBTA travel taxes map

Image courtesy of GBTA’s Travel Kit, reports on research released by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which lists the BEST and WORST travel taxes of the top 50 US destinations.

The 2012 report, “Travel Taxes in the US: The Best and Worst Cities to Visit,” examines taxes on travel related services, aka, discriminatory travel taxes, on things like, hotel stays, car rentals and meals at restaurants.

Can you guess which city “wins” for highest travel taxes?  For the fifth year running, it’s Chicago.  Read the full story, including graphs of the top cities and associated taxes travelers can expect to pay per day.