All posts in Hot Topics

Four proven ways to cram a language before your international journey

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In many foreign countries, Americans have helped generate a stereotypical image, and it’s usually not very pretty – especially when we get called out on our loudness or chubby appearance.  Unfortunately, we are also known for our limited language skills.  Did you know that 53% of Europeans speak at least two languages, as compared to only 18% of Americans?  To help American travelers shake this dull distinction, this month’s Hot Topic series features expert advice from top linguists, so you may quickly attain simple conversational skills before traveling to non-English speaking geographies.

Benny Lewis

Benny Lewis, the Irish Polyglot

Benny Lewis, international language hacker and author of Fluent in 3 Months—the top language blog in the world, agreed to help us with this effort.  When we asked Benny why he thought foreign language skills were not pursued by more people, he said most folks don’t think they can do it or just don’t get around to it.  “I tell would-be language learners, there are seven days in a week and ‘someday’ is not one of them, so start learning and using a new language today.

Known for his take-no-prisoners approach to language learning, we got Benny to share some of his top tips for conquering the basics.  Obviously, Benny wrote a whole book on this, so summarizing an entire language learning process is tough in a few simple tips, but he does a pretty good job of it in this blog post chronicling his intensive experience with Polish – He was able to carry on a simple conversation in about two hours!

Benny’s top pre-trip language cramming tips:

  • Get a phrase book and cram the essentials in a couple of hours
  • Get on and set up a spoken exchange with a real native speaker, practice what you know immediately so you hit the ground running later
  • Make your learning process about making mistakes and not perfection. Practice communication, not perfect sentence structure. Tarzan-ese is absolutely acceptable
  • Use to cram vocabulary through clever mnemonics.

Next week, we’ll talk with Lorraine Way, president of The Language Way, an onsite language training service. The company specializes in helping professionals, like social workers, lawyers, HR workers and other professionals working with people, learn to do their jobs in Spanish.


53% of Europeans speak at least two languages, as compared to only 18% of Americans; Forbes, “America’s Foreign Language Deficit,”



Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown Shares Family Spring Break Tips

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, working with Bank of America and a recent survey they published on family Spring Break travel plans, we learned that nearly half of US families are getting away. This week, the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, shares tips for a smooth Spring Break trip.

samantha brown, travel channel• Rehearse the security line
Between taking off your shoes, unpacking our laptops and taking off coats, the security line can get a bit messy. Prepare your kids by practicing with the whole family the night before; pretend the kitchen island is the security table, a salad bowl a bin and a doorway the metal detector.

• Get the first flight out
While it’s hard to get the family up early, the first flight out is always cheaper and most likely leaves on time which is important when you have a connecting flight. For little ones, the TSA now allows children 12 years and younger to walk through airport security with shoes and a light jacket on.

• Never think you’re going to be fed on the plane
Don’t wait to eat at the airport, plan your food ahead of time. Whether you eat at the house or bring snacks it will save you time and money. Just be sure to check TSA regulations to see what is allowed through security.

• Let your rewards do the work
Use credit card rewards to offset the costs. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card gives you the flexibility to earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all purchases that be used for hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars and more. You can also find the best value by booking a hotel where perks are included, such as a breakfast buffet. It makes the morning easier by being well fed and coffee’d up!

• Don’t get upset when things don’t go as planned
Travel is rifle with missed connections, wrong turns, long lines and unexpected closings. Put together a Plan A and Plan B list you can easily access to prepare for the unexpected. Always remember how you react is how your children will so have fun with it and put a smile on your face!

• It’s called Spring BREAK
So take one. Give your family a break around 3 or 4pm when everyone is naturally feeling a lull. Nap, read a book or magazine and kids can draw and color or write in a journal. Get the whole family involved in the travel planning process. Have each member choose and plan an activity so everyone is invested in the family vacation.

Survey says: Nearly half of American families are headed on a Spring Break vacation

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

According to a recent survey by Bank of America, nearly half of American families are headed on a spring vacation this year. So, what’s on their itinerary? Check out the infographic below and come back next week for some Family Spring Break Tips from Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel.

Families Head for Spring Break

Wild (life) Travel Adventures: Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics: Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, Tania Segura from the World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Program, took us to the Namibian Bush and snowy landscapes of Manitoba, Canada, where we checked out some of the best vacations for travelers who yearn to get up close to lions, elephants and polar bears.  In Part 2, we visit the Galapagos and Komodo, Indonesia.  If you missed Part 1, click here to catch up.


iguana in galapagosClassic Galapagos Adventure

Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, surrounded by open ocean, a volcanic archipelago straddles the equator. The Galapagos Islands, forged of black lava and named for the giant tortoises that are among its most noted inhabitants, are like nowhere else in the world. Home to a profuse array of wildlife, the islands offer an immersion in nature that feels primeval, where iguanas and penguins and blue-footed boobies share the beaches with us, unconcerned by our presence. Herman Melville called the Galapagos “Las Islas Encantadas,” or The Enchanted Isles, an apt moniker for a realm that remains otherworldly, even today. Choose between two vessels: our distinctive yacht, the M/Y Letty, or the ultra-deluxe M/C Athala II.

What to expect:

  • WWF’s flagship itinerary is among the best week-long Galapagos experiences, with the islands’ most highly trained naturalist guides
  • Seal at GalapagosWith the best guide-to-traveler ratio in the islands, guests are ensured personal encounters with the extraordinary nature and wildlife of the Galapagos
  • Snorkel with sea lions, sunbathe with iguanas, scout for whales and dolphins, and spend a night among wild tortoises at an exclusive highlands camp

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s premier nature travel destinations, and deservedly so: there may be no better place on the planet for close-up encounters with wildlife than this remote archipelago that’s home to an assortment of unique and gentle creatures. It’s thus essential to experience the Galapagos in a way that affords intimate interactions with wildlife, with personalized interpretation by top naturalists—something you don’t get with larger cruise ships and formal lectures, or less qualified guides.

Price tag: 11 Days / Year-Round, From $5,695

Komodo National Park, Indonesia

komodo snorkelerKOMODO SNORKELING

The Coral Triangle is one of the most biodiverse marine regions in the world. Komodo National Park is a place of raw natural beauty. Its islands are home to such exotic animals as the giant carnivorous Komodo dragon, and its crystal-clear waters are home to thriving corals and a variety of fish. WWF’s newest snorkeling adventure gives you an opportunity to see both.

What to expect:

  • Go on daily snorkeling outings in some of the planet’s top spots, including one consistently on experts’ top 10 lists.
  • Snorkel in search of electric rays, manta rays and big pelagic species.
  • Take a guided tour to look for Komodo dragons in the forests of Komodo National Park.
  • Live aboard a comfortable, small private yacht with just 12 fellow travelerskomodo dragon

Foray into the diverse waters of the Coral Triangle during snorkeling outings at the reefs surrounding the marine reserve of Moyo and the uninhabited volcanic island of Satonda. Huge sponges, healthy corals and massive schools of such fish as bannerfish and red tooth triggers abound.

The area around Gili Banta offers great chances to swim with the big guys. Sharks, mantas and dolphins are regular visitors to the current-bathed waters around Gili Banta.

Hike with the islands most famous inhabitants, Komodo Dragons! Because this region possesses geology unlike any other place on Earth, the three islands that comprise Komodo National Park have developed endemic species that epitomize nature at its wildest. Avid birdwatchers and others will enjoy an early hike on the beaches and trails around Horseshoe Bay to catch glimpses of several endemic species.

Price tag: 12 days / July 4-15, 2015  |  From $9,020 per person



Wild (life) Travel Adventures: Part 1

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics: Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

When you think about exploring places, like Indonesia, Galapagos, Namibia or Manitoba, what comes to mind? If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, these exotic destinations are likely on your bucket list, because they are home to some of the rarest and most beautiful animals in the world.

world wildlife fund logoWith help from Tania Segura, Associate Specialist of the World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Program, we take a special look at these unique destinations and their native wildlife.


Namibia is soul-stirring. Here on the southwest edge of Africa, orange sand dunes rise a thousand feet high against a cobalt sky. The coastal desert is washed by the relentless ocean, while inland the sun bakes the plains into a cracked puzzle of dried mud, pocked with grass and thornbush. There is water here, too, though its presence is subtle. It is the source of life in the stark Etosha salt pan, whose waterholes attract fantastic numbers of game, including feline predators. Springbok, oryx, kudu and dik-dik run to elude them, in a great and ancient desert dance.

Namibia Safari

If Namibia is not on your bucket list, it should be.   Only in Namibia can you experience breath-taking landscapes, vibrant populations of lions, cheetahs, rhinos, and elephants, and a nation of people whose livelihoods and future are bound to wildlife’s freedom to roam. Taking a Namibian Safari with WWF, you can expect the following highlights:

- Fly between secluded luxury camps on private reserves to maximize time for wildlife drives and exploration

- Track rhinos on foot and experience some of Africa’s most exciting wildlife viewing, with many uniquely desert-adapted species amidst Namibia’s striking geography

- See cheetah and leopard up close, and get a “behind-the-scenes” look at efforts to conserve them at the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima

Price tag: 12-day tours from $11,895 – multiple departures June, August and September

polar bears, churchill, manitoba, canadaCHURCHILL / Polar Bear Expedition

If Namibia is too hot for your taste and your fascination lies with Arctic creatures, like the great Polar Bear, then look no further than Churchill in Manitoba, Canada.

The WWF’s Polar Bear Expedition brings you to the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” Imagine looking out onto the snowy tundra, and spying them, white on white. Alternately regal and whimsical and always awe-inspiring, polar bears in the wild offer a natural encounter charged with drama and magic. The WWF expedition guides use Polar Rover vehicles, so parties can approach at close range without disturbing the animal, offering a chance for an incredibly moving wildlife experience. From heated confines – or standing on an outdoor platform – travelers may see mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting or a huge, solitary male ambling over the tundra. When you join a Polar Bear Expedition with WWF, here’s what to expect:

- See the world’s greatest concentration of polar bears in the intimacy of a small group, on WWF’s flagship polar bear tour

- The most comfortable vehicles, with innovative mesh steel flooring on the outdoor observation platform, get you safely up close to the bears

- Professional Expedition Leaders with unparalled experience, enhancing your polar bear adventure at every turn with their in-depth knowledge

Price tag: 6-7 Days / Oct & Nov, From $5,595

In our next installment, Tania Segura will show us intriguing highlights from their Galapagos Experience and Snorkeling Adventures in Komodo, Indonesia.